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Retirement, Health Care Costs Worry Americans

Posted on 14 Nov 12 by Annie George

Anyone paying attention to the current presidential election knows that health care and retirement have been major topics in the campaign, and with good reason: Americans are gravely concerned about these issues. Nearly three-fourths of those Americans who are not retired agree that they worry about having enough money to do so (74%) and about being able to pay for health care costs in retirement (73%). These fears appear to be tied at least in part to concerns regarding social security, with only two-in-five (41%) of non-retired Americans agreeing with the statement, "I have faith in social security being there when I retire."

Additionally, seven in ten Americans – retired and not retired alike – agree that they worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs (71%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,307 adults surveyed online between August 13 and 20, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

For the nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) that are putting money toward savings, the top goals are rainy day funds for unexpected costs (62%) and retirement (53%).

Not surprisingly, priorities change considerably in households with children; college savings show an exponential increase in importance among respondents with children in their households (44% among those with children in their households, 10% without), and this focus on college savings comes largely at the expense of rainy day (55% with, 65% without) and retirement (42% with, 57% without) savings.

The results show glimmers of hope for two industries, as one-fourth (26%) of adults 18-35 indicate they are saving to purchase a car, and 27% of all Americans are putting money away for vacation.

Worried about the future while also living on the edge
Forty-seven percent (47%) of Americans agree that they are living paycheck to paycheck and thus cannot afford to put money in savings, thereby providing no relief to their future worries.
As might be expected, living paycheck to paycheck is more common among younger Americans (53% ages 18-47 vs. 28% ages 67+) and those with children in their households (55% with, 43% without). And debt is not helping: the majority of Americans (59%) would prioritize paying off debt if they came into unexpected funds.

So what?

"There is clear anxiety on the part of the American public regarding their day-to-day finances and those related to their futures," says David Krane, SVP Harris Interactive. "Yet rather than creating products and services that could alleviate these concerns, bringing peace of mind to their customers, the financial services industry continues to focus its marketing on products and services related to spending and further debt accumulation. Companies that figure out how to take advantage of this missed opportunity are likely to be those that will rebound from the trust disadvantage that the industry now faces and grow their businesses."