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Money Worries Top Seniors' List of Health-Related Concerns: Poll
  • Posted May 6, 2024

Money Worries Top Seniors' List of Health-Related Concerns: Poll

Worries over health-related costs are plaguing the minds of older Americans of all backgrounds, a new poll suggests.

Five of the six health-related issues that most people found very concerning had to do with health care costs, according to results from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. 

And the sixth issue – financial scams and fraud – also had to do with money, results show.

“In this election year, these findings offer a striking reminder of how much health care costs matter to older adults,” Dr. John Ayanian, director of the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, where the poll is based, said in a news release. The poll is supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M's academic medical center.

Overall, 56% of people over 50 said they're concerned about the cost of medical care for older adults, poll results show.

Other top concerns included assisted living costs (56%), prescription medicine costs (54%), scams and fraud (53%), cost of health insurance or Medicare (52%), and the cost of dental care (45%), the poll found.

The same six topics rose to the top regardless of age, gender, race, ethnic group, region of the country, political ideology or income level, researchers said.

Other topics rounding out the top 10 health issues included access to quality assisted living (38%), overall quality of health care (35%), inaccurate or misleading health information (34%) and access to affordable healthy food (33%).

“This survey validates AARP research that shows affording health care is a kitchen table issue among older adults, their families, and their caregivers,” AARP Senior Vice President of Research Indira Venkat said in a news release. “It is critical that we continue improving health care access and affordability for the millions of Americans struggling to pay for insurance premiums and copays, prescription drugs, and long-term care while putting food on the table and paying bills.”

However, differences emerged between groups beyond issues related to health care costs, the poll found.

For example, women were more likely than men to say they're very concerned about access to quality home care, assisted living or nursing home care (44% versus 32%).

Women were also more likely to say they're concerned about social isolation and loneliness (34% versus 22%) and aging in place (33% versus 22%).

Half of Black older adults (50%) said they were concerned about racial or ethnic discrimination, compared with 26% of Hispanic older adults and 15% of whites.

Black seniors also were more likely to say they were more concerned about age-based discrimination, unequal access to health care and unequal access to mental health care.

“As our society strives to improve the health and well-being of people as they age, it's important to understand to what extent different health-related topics are of concern for older adults and how perspectives vary,” poll director Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren said in a news release. “The high level of concern about cost-related issues across demographic groups points to a particularly important opportunity for action.”

The poll was conducted online and via phone in February and March 2024 among 3,379 adults 50 and older.

More information

KFF has more about American's concerns over health care costs.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release

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