The Pulse

Americans Are Stressed Out Over Soaring Healthcare Costs This Enrollment Season

 New research delves into the healthcare issues and concerns among U.S. adults

LOS ANGELESOct. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults identify healthcare costs as a significant source of stressOne in five adults cannot afford health insurance co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses, including prescription drugs, according to a new study released today, Stressed Out: Americans and Healthcare, by nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS). These alarming findings come to light as people across the country prepare for open enrollment, whether through employer-based health insurance, individual insurance, or health insurance Exchanges.

“Health insurance is the means to receive quality healthcare. Our survey findings underscore that the most pressing issues in healthcare today are affordability and access,” said Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS.

As part of its Sixth Annual Healthcare Survey, TCHS surveyed 3,604 adults to understand the current state of healthcare in the United States. The survey findings identify ways in which the current system is out of sync with the needs of U.S. consumers. Key findings include:

  • Consumers experience rising healthcare costs but aren’t preparing for additional costs
    One in three U.S. adults indicate they have seen an increase in health insurance premiums (35 percent) and out-of-pocket expenses (31 percent). Forty-eight percent of adults said they received an unexpected or surprise medical bill they thought would be covered by insurance. Amid rising costs, relatively few (31 percent) report saving for healthcare expenses.
  • Out-of-pocket costs compromise financial security
    Sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults are paying for significant healthcare expenses through a variety of means, including savings (35 percent), credit cards (28 percent), disposable income (24 percent), loans from family (8 percent), or a 401kwithdrawal (6 percent). Only 27 percent indicate they do not have significant healthcare expenses.
  • Cost leads to lack of insurance
    More than three in five (61 percent) of the uninsured say obtaining health insurance is too expensive and they cannot afford it.
  • Pre-existing conditions are a concern for many
    The most often cited “biggest fear” among U.S. adults (35 percent) regarding health policy/law is losing their healthcare insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Overall, 62 percent report having a chronic illness.
  • Consumers favor the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and specific provisions of healthcare policy
    Forty-one percent are in favor of the ACA and 30 percent against it. However, 56 percent do not believe the government should require (mandate) healthcare coverage. The top three inclusions U.S. adults would like to see in healthcare policy include pre-existing condition coverage (45 percent), annual out-of-pocket limits (35 percent), and expansion of Medicare for seniors (34 percent). Amid reports of high prescription drug costs, 79 percent feel pharmaceutical companies are responsible.
  • There are noticeable disparities in health insurance coverage
    Latinos and African-Americans are the groups least able to afford health insurance and Latinos are by far the most uninsured (26 percent). African Americans report an increase in insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, but also, compared to last year, poorer health.
It can really pay off to take extra steps to both protect your health and fully understand your insurance coverage, which is especially important for those with pre-existing conditions...

“By doing their homework now, Americans may avoid unexpected out-of-pocket medical costs later,” said De La Torre. “It can really pay off to take extra steps to both protect your health and fully understand your insurance coverage, which is especially important for those with pre-existing conditions.”

In addition to offering detailed survey findings for 2018, Stressed Out: Americans and Healthcare, offers a high level trend analysis that illustrates the changing healthcare landscape. Please visit TCHS at for more information, resources, news and perspectives. Follow TCHS on Twitter @TCHS.




About The Transamerica Center for Health Studies
Transamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS) – a division of Transamerica Institute® (TI) – is focused on empowering consumers and employers to achieve the best value and protection from their health coverage, as well as the best outcomes in their personal health and wellness. TCHS engages with the American public through national surveys, its website, research findings and consumer guidance. TCHS also collaborates with healthcare experts and organizations that are equally focused on health coverage and personal health and wellness. TI is a nonprofit, private foundation funded by contributions from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates, as well as unaffiliated third parties. None of the contributors are major medical insurers.
TCHS and TI and their representatives cannot give ERISA, tax, or legal advice, and TCHS is not an agent of any government agency including, but not limited to, state or federal health benefit exchanges. This material is provided for informational purposes only. TCHS and its representatives are not registered brokers, navigators, applicant assistors, or promoters.  Although care has been taken in preparing this material and presenting it accurately, TCHS disclaims any express or implied warranty as to the accuracy of any material contained herein and any liability with respect to it.
For more information, please visit TCHS at
About the Sixth Annual Nationwide Consumer Healthcare Survey
The results of the study – conducted by The Harris Poll via a self-administered online survey among 3,604 U.S. adults (ages 18-64) in August 2018 – represent the sixth annual survey from Transamerica Center for Health Studies. Figures for education, age by gender, region and household income were weighted where necessary to align them with the population of U.S. residents ages 18 to 64, then separately by race, and combined into a total General Population sample. A separate weight was created for U.S. residents ages 18-64 who are currently uninsured, as well as for age and ethnicity. An additional weight was created for Millennials and Generation Z to ensure representativeness. A full methodology is available in the report.