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Some Boomers Edgy On Health Care Costs

Health care costs are daunting to nearly a fifth of the people who took part in a recent AARP survey.

The telephone survey, conducted in November by Woelfel Research, included 1,001 U.S. adults age 45 and older. All but 10 percent of them have health insurance, either from their employer, their spouse's employer, private insurance, or Medicare.

One survey question was, "How confident are you that you will be able to afford medical care next year?"

Most people - 81 percent - said they were at least somewhat confident. That leaves the remaining 19 percent unsure that they will be able to foot their health care bills in 2009. Here are the details:

  • Extremely confident: 26 percent

  • Very confident: 33 percent

  • Somewhat confident: 22 percent

  • Not very confident: 9 percent

  • Not at all confident: 10 percent
  • People age 65 and older (and thus eligible for Medicare) were especially confident that they'll be able to afford health care next year. People earning less than $30,000 per year were least confident about being able to pay for healthcare.

    Likewise, when asked specifically about affording prescription drug costs next year, most people - 83 percent - were at least somewhat confident. But 9 percent were not very confident and 8 percent were not at all confident that they could afford their prescription drugs. Most participants reported spending up to $200 per month for up to six prescription drugs in 2008.

    Taking Action

    Survey participants were also asked what they had done to try to contain their health care costs.

  • 58 percent said that when a doctor prescribes a new drug, they always ask if there's a generic equivalent.

  • 62 percent said they always pick the generic version, if one is available.

  • 49 percent said they've asked their doctor if there are things they can do (such as physical activity and diet change) to lower their number of medications.

  • 77 percent said they've never been prescribed a brand-name drug that they couldn't afford.

  • 85 percent said they hadn't cut back on medications in the past year because of costs.
  • The survey has a margin of error of three percentage points.
    By Miranda Hitti
    Reviewed by Louise Chang
    ©2005-2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved

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