Cost of Healthcare Is Americans’ Top Financial Concern

As the U.S. Senate begins considering legislation that could significantly change the nation’s healthcare system, a new Gallup survey finds the cost of healthcare leads the list of what Americans consider the most important financial problem facing their family.

Key finding: “The 17% who name healthcare costs as their family’s most pressing financial problem is up seven percentage points since 2013 and is just two points shy of the all-time high of 19% recorded in 2007.”

Concerns about health care costs have fluctuated over time:

Americans’ concerns about the cost of healthcare fell substantially in 2008 amid the financial recession. These concerns were replaced with more fundamental financial problems such as a lack of money, low wages and unemployment. Higher gas prices also weighed heavily on American families’ finances at that time.

As the political debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) heated up in late 2009 and 2010, healthcare costs once again became one of the most commonly cited top financial problems, reaching as high as 15% in April 2010, shortly after the bill was signed into law (though the figure fell to 10% later that year).

Over the next few years, concern about healthcare typically stayed around the 12% to 14% range, though in 2013, concerns dropped down to 10% as more provisions of the legislation were implemented. However, concerns again inched up in 2014 and continued moving up in subsequent years, culminating with this year’s 17%, the highest level since October 2007.