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Health insurance concerns linger for many

Health Care and Health Insurance
by David Dillon
More being done to cut health care costs?
More being done to cut health care costs?

Across the country, millions of Americans have faced difficulties in dealing with their health insurance over the past several years, as benefits shrink and both premiums and out-of-pocket costs rise. To that end, it should come as no surprise that a number of recent polls highlight the extent and varieties of those difficulties.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say they think the country is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to helping people get access to health insurance when they need it, according to a recent poll from public policy organization Communicating for America. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, the polled only rate President Donald Trump at a 1.9 in terms of health insurance policy, with a 1.7 rating for Congress.

More findings
In particular, it seems that the vast majority of respondents believe access to health care may go away for those with pre-existing conditions, and nearly 80 percent cited this as a significant concern for them. In addition, almost 2 in 5 respondents said they've skipped out on at least some medical care in the past year because of what they it would cost them, and more than half said simply buying coverage has become more difficult over that time.

"The survey results reveal a deeply rooted discomfort among Americans about the future of their health insurance," said Communicating for America CEO Jeff Smedsrud. "This should cause great concern among policymakers and insurers because health insurance and access to health plan choices and has come to be seen as a fundamental right in America."

The cost of health insurance and care can add up quickly over time.The cost of health insurance and care can add up quickly over time.

Other struggles
Meanwhile, 38 percent of respondents to a recent Clutch poll said they do not receive health insurance benefits from their employers, but more than half of those who did said it was their most important benefit. That broke down on generational lines, however, as 62 percent of baby boomers and Generation Xers said health insurance was most important, compared with just 44 percent of millennials. This may highlight how much more need for health care older generations have than today's young adults.

Lisa Oyler, human resources director at Access Development, told Clutch that employees with health insurance tend to be happier in their jobs, and also more productive, so while this kind of coverage is expensive, it often pays for itself in other, potentially unexpected ways.

As far as older workers and their health care needs go, new analysis shows just how costly it can be in the long run, according to Fidelity. Today, the average 65-year-old couple that is planning to retire will probably need to have an average of about $280,000 set aside just to cover medical expenses for the remainder of their lives, a 75 percent increase from the first estimate the company made in 2002. For men, those costs will add up to an average of $133,000, but for women - who tend to live longer - that number grows to $147,000.

This number is by far the highest of all time, up from $275,000 in 2017, thanks in large part to health insurance premiums growing sharply in recent years, the report said. For instance, more than one-third of older Americans can expect to pay at least $500 per month for their premiums. Problematically, the financial services company found that nearly half of older Americans estimated that they would have to save up less than $100,000 for these expenses, and another 33 percent said they simply didn't know what they would need.

The more Americans can do to investigate their health insurance needs and find solutions that work for them, the better off they will be as time goes on and costs continue to rise.

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