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Health costs slam middle-income Americans

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Middle-income U.S. residents are more likely to complain about the burden of health care costs than lower-income or higher-income residents are.

Art Swift, an analyst at Gallup, reported that finding today in a summary of results from Gallup’s Gallup Poll Social Series. He based the summary on answers collected in early January from 804 adults, ages 18 and older. Gallup asks each Social Series poll participant to tell it about the “most important financial problem” the participant’s family faces today.

This year, the participants seemed to be happier about the overall state of their finances than they were a year earlier: 17 percent said they had no important financial problems. That’s up from 12 percent in 2014. The level of participants reporting having no important financial problems is the highest it’s been since at least 2011.

The most common answer was “health care costs”: 14 percent of all participants cited health care costs as their top problem. That’s up from 12 percent in 2014, and up from 10 percent in 2013. 

Swift found that people in the middle-income category – $30,000 to $74,999 – were somewhat more likely to report having important financial problems than the other participants. Only 14 percent of the middle-income participants said they had no important financial problems, compared with 18 percent of the higher-income participants and 15 percent of the lower-income participants.

For complaints about health care costs, the differences were stark: 18 percent of the middle-income participants said health care costs are an important problem. Only 13 percent of the high-income participants and 10 percent of the low-income participants said health care costs are an important problem.

A week ago, analysts at the Commonwealth Fund published survey data showing that the high-income people and low-income people reported fewer problems with paying medical bills in 2014 than they reported having in 2012, but that the percentage of middle-income people who had problems with medical bills had stayed the same.

See also: Typical PPACA exchange users may be broke