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Cost of Health Care Is Americans' Top Financial Concern: CFP Board

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More than half of Americans are experiencing high or very high levels of stress, according to a new survey from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Two in five survey participants cite the cost of health care as their top financial concern, and one in three point to unemployment or reduced income, protecting assets and managing debt.

Related: Nearly Half of Americans Want to Learn More About Investing: Survey

“The uncertainty and volatility of this past year have strained Americans physically, mentally, emotionally and financially,” CFP Board Chief Executive Kevin Keller said in a statement. “Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country and the recent surge in cases, it is understandable that Americans are most concerned with the cost of their health care.”

The online poll was conducted Nov. 3 among a national sample of 2,005 adult respondents.

The survey found that Americans are more concerned about their personal economic situation than they were before the coronavirus eruption in the U.S. Thirty-four percent of respondents in the new survey said their personal economic situation was worse than four years ago, up from 25% in early March who said this.

Distinct differences between generations about stress levels and top financial concerns emerged in the findings.

Sixty percent of Gen Z and 64% of millennials reported high or very high levels of stress. Their older counterparts also reported stress, but at lower levels than their younger counterparts, with 46% of baby boomers and 28% of older people reporting high levels of worry.

As to their main source of concern, 46% of boomers and 50% of older folks said they were most worried about the cost of health care — likely because of their being especially vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic combined with their reliance on Medicare, CFP Board said.

Forty percent of millennials said they were most concerned about unemployment or reduced income, while 59% of the oldest respondents worried most about protecting assets.

Financial Planner Guidance

The survey found that despite high levels of stress and several competing concerns, 73% of respondents do not work with a financial planner.

Related: COVID-19′s Impact on the Advisor-Client Relationship

Those who were most likely to do so included the following

  • Those with income of $100,000 or more — 43%
  • Those with income of $200,000 or more — 54%
  • Individuals with a bachelor’s degree — 38%
  • Individuals with a graduate/post-graduate degree — 40%

In addition, married people were likelier to work with a financial planner than those who were divorced.

According to the survey, respondents who work with a financial professional experience similar levels of day-to-day stress as those who do not, with 53% reporting high levels of anxiety.

However, those who work with a financial planner were less likely to be concerned about the cost of health care than those who do not: 36% versus 43%. They were also less concerned about unemployment or reduced income, 22% versus 36%; managing debt, 18% versus 35%; and making rent or mortgage payments, 13% versus 32%.

“A financial planner can help lessen Americans’ financial concerns by addressing important topics such as reduced income, managing debt or paying bills within the context of their financial plans,” Keller said.

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