One in two people in the U.S. are concerned that a major health event in their family would lead to bankruptcy, up 5 percent points over the past eighteen months.

In a poll conducted with West Health, Gallup found that more younger people are concerned about medical debt risks, along with more non-white adults, published in their study report, 50% in U.S. Fear Bankruptcy Due to Major Health Event.

The survey was fielded in July 2020 among 1,007 U.S. adults 18 and older.

One of the basic questions in studies like these is whether a consumer could cover a $500 medical bill with their current savings. In July 2020, 54% of Americans could fund a $500 medical expense through a checking or savings account (separate from a health savings vehicle like an HSA or MSA), shown in the first table.

Underneath that general number, more white adults than non-white consumers could cover the $500 bill from traditional checking or savings. Fewer people earning under $40,000 a year could pay that $500 expense out of checking or savings accounts.

One-fourth of U.S. adults would fund the $500 medical bill via a credit card, including 43% of non-white consumers and 46% earning under $40K a year.

14% of Americans would use a medical flexible spending account or health savings account, especially popular among people earning over $100,000 a year (30% of whom would use an MSA or HSA, showing a large disparity between wealthier people who can afford to save into a tax-advantaged savings vehicle versus people earning lower-incomes).

26% of non-white adults would take a loan from a family member or friend to cover the $500 expense, and 43% of non-white consumers would use a credit card or other loan type.

One-fifth (20%) of non-white U.S. adults carry long-term medical debt, Gallup and West Health learned. That is nearly double the 12% of white adults that has medical debt in America.

By income, 28% of householders with less than $40K a year in income are unable to repay current medical debt in the next 12 months, compared with 6% of people earning $100,000 or more a year.

For one-third of Americans, lowering the cost of prescription drugs is a top voting issue influencing their choice in 2020 elections. This is up five percentage points from February 2020, a health financial worry that increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prescription drug costs are a concern to more women than men, for non-white adults, and for those people earning less than $40,000 a year.

88% of Americans are concerned about rising drug costs due to the pandemic, Gallup has found.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Gallup observed lower likelihood of long-term medical debt among Republican adults (8%) compared with Democrats (16%) and Independents (18%).

The last chart comes from a poll published this week from CBS News and YouGov on U.S. voters’ perspectives on an emerging COVID-19 vaccine. Two-thirds of registered voters overall perceive the vaccine is being “rushed through,” compared with one-third who would see the vaccine this year as a “scientific achievement.”

Note the party ID differences: 3 in 4 Democrats would view the 2020 vaccine as being rushed, with nearly one-half of Republicans seeing it as rushed.

That’s a pretty close convergence in this year of huge chasms across most issues comparing Democrats and Republicans.

The reputation of pharma, improving in the early phase of the pandemic, could negatively slip with respect to the current politicization of science, evidence-based medicine, and the anti-vax sentiment that was in place before the coronavirus crisis.

Today, AstraZeneca announced the halting of their COVID-19 vaccine study due to a possible adverse event occurring in one of the clinical trial participants.

Watch this space as prescription drugs and the pharma industry continue to be a top health care driving force for U.S. voters. This year, the pandemic has converged with household health, science and trust, home economics, and indeed, politics.

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