To combat high inflation, Americans have made difficult tradeoffs that negatively impact their health and wellbeing, finds a new Nationwide Retirement Institute survey. Over the last 12 months, nearly two in five American households (17%) received food or goods from a food bank (22% for Millennials), and the same amount (17%) stopped buying healthier foods (organic or high-priced healthy foods).
Nearly one in five Americans (18%) say they skipped meals or didn’t buy groceries due to high inflation (including 28% of Gen Z and 23% of millennials). As food insecurity deepens, Americans are also struggling to pay for critical health care expenses. Many have cancelled or postponed plans in the past 12 months to see a specialist (14%), take a prescribed medication (10%) or get an annual physical (11%) due to high inflation. Almost one-fifth of Gen Z (17%) and Millennials (19%) have cancelled or postponed plans in the past 12 months to see a mental health professional.
“As the price of health care and basic necessities continue to reach record highs, Americans have been forced to make tough decisions that sacrifice their health and wellbeing,” said Kristi Rodriguez, senior vice president of the Nationwide Retirement Institute. “While these decisions are understandable and challenging, making short-term tradeoffs may have long-term impacts. Neglecting your health now can lead to far bigger costs as you age and approach retirement. This is such a critical time to consult with a financial professional to create a plan that prioritizes your health care needs now and in retirement.”
As Americans brace for even bigger expenses in the future, the survey finds that one in ten (10%) have decreased their retirement plan contributions in the past year to pay for health care expenses because of high inflation. Another 14% of adults are considering decreasing their contributions this year, and this number is higher for Gen Z and Millennials at 21% and 20%, respectively.
To find additional savings, 14% of Americans say they are considering downgrading their health insurance plan because of high inflation, which rises to 23% and 20% for Gen Z and Millennials, respectively.
One area of potential relief for those already age 65 and over is reviewing their Medicare plans during open enrollment, which runs through December 7. According to the National Council on Aging, only about 10% of people switch Medicare plans each year during open enrollment, which could mean they’re overspending for coverage they don’t need or use.
“It’s important people utilize online tools and resources in addition to leveraging a financial professional,” Rodriguez said. “For instance, older adults could save money right now by reevaluating their Medicare plan during open enrollment.”