Debt Relief Survey Reveals Trends in Healthcare Behaviors, Medical Debt and Cash Flow
Americans who qualified for the second round of stimulus checks are using the money to save, to pay off debt, or to manage daily expenses … not to stimulate.
SAN MATEO, Calif. (PRWEB)
February 11, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic and recession continue to weigh on Americans’ finances, habits and actions. Latest Freedom Debt Relief (FDR) investigation reveals changes in consumer behavior with potentially significant long-term impacts.
“From financial health to mental health, from social justice to a pandemic, with a subsequent economic recession, 2020 has been a year like no other,” says Michael Micheletti, senior director of corporate communications at FDR. “As 2021 begins, we see significant challenges remain, with the health of the nation and Americans at a crossroads.”
Changes in consumer behavior impact spending, savings and incentives
The recent round of $ 600 stimulus checks were aimed at helping fuel the economy through consumer spending and discretionary spending. But many Americans who qualified for the second round of stimulus checks are using – or planning to use – the money to save, to pay off debts, or to manage daily expenses. Those who received their stimulus checks say they used the money to:
- Savings: 38%
- Debt repayment: 32%
- Daily expenses (ex: groceries, gas, coffee, etc.): 31%
- Discretionary spending: 27%
It should be noted that 41% of men report spending their stimulus money on themselves (discretionary spending), while only 13% of women say the same. Additionally, 40% of women report spending stimulus money on daily expenses, while only 23% of men do.
The majority of Americans also plan to change their financial habits this year.
- 12% say they will seriously consider sharing their accommodation and associated costs with family or close friends.
- 28% say they will look for additional sources of income.
- 75% say they plan to spend less, or about the same, on restaurant meals.
- 75% say they plan to spend less, or about the same, on retail spending.
Worrisome changes in healthcare behaviors have long-term effects
The survey identified disturbing results on consumer health care behaviors, spending and debt. Forty percent of those surveyed say that they or someone in their household has experienced a worsening of their condition by avoiding health care facilities and / or doctor’s offices. In addition, 80% of these people report that this decision caused them to incur more expensive medical bills in the long term or to see a significant increase in the costs of their health care.
- 28% say they plan to spend more on healthcare in 2021.
- 20% say they have medical debts.
- 75% of these people say they have accumulated more medical debt since March 2020.
- 60% have accumulated more medical debts because they or a member of their household have experienced an increase in doctor visits due to potential exposures to COVID-19.
- 36% have accumulated more medical debts because they or a member of their household contracted COVID-19.
- 26% accumulated more medical debts because they, or the head of their household, lost their health insurance coverage and incurred additional expenses as a result.
“Clearly, the pandemic has disrupted normal behaviors in preventive and diagnostic care,” says Micheletti. “Closed offices and canceled or postponed appointments are understandable, but delaying preventative or necessary care can have serious long-term repercussions on the health and wallets of Americans.”
Hopefully, people need the money… NOW.
Three-quarters of consumers (76%) say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their current financial security – up 24 percentage points from FDR survey carried out last October. In addition, 70% say they are confident in their personal financial outlook. At the same time, consumers are struggling with cash flow and debt.
- 73% somewhat or strongly agree that an unforeseen expense or bill of $ 500 would be problematic.
- 56% say they are worried about being able to meet all their bills and payments.
- 56% feel overwhelmed by their debt and financial situation.
Of particular concern is the impact of the tax refund delay. With the opening of the tax season being delayed by about three weeks, consumers can expect a similar delay in receiving refunds. More than one in five (21%) say it would be difficult to buy necessary groceries and household items if they only received their refund two or three weeks later than usual.
The same number said a similar delay would cause them to accumulate more credit card debt. As credit card debt is already a problem for 43% of respondents – and half of them have more debt than a year ago – the impact of a delay in receiving reimbursement could result major hardships for Americans throughout the next year, Micheletti says.
Marked gender differences
The results of the survey showed significant differences in the results between the sexes.
- Impact of COVID-19 on Finances: More men (76%) than women (62%) report that COVID-19 has had a moderate or strong impact on their current financial situation.
- Financial security: 86% of men say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their current financial security, compared to only 66% of women. In addition, 34% of women feel poor or very poor in terms of their financial security.
- Debt: Despite the above findings, 64% of men say they feel overwhelmed by their debt and financial situation. Only 48% of women do.
- Financially, better or worse: 40% of women say they feel worse financially than a year ago.
- Boost spending with money: 41% of men who received their money say they spent it on themselves (discretionary spending), while only 13% of women spent it.
Commissioned by Freedom Debt Relief, the online survey of 2,005 adults in the United States was conducted by Atomik Research from January 20 to 22. The margin of error is +/- 2%, with a confidence interval of 95%. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency.
Freedom Debt Relief
Co-founded by Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, Freedom Debt Relief is part of Freedom Financial Network, LLC, providing innovative solutions that empower people to lead healthier financial lives. For those struggling with debt, the personalized Freedom Debt Relief program offers the ability to dramatically reduce and pay off what they owe faster than they could on their own. For more information about the company and its services, see http://www.freedomdebtrelief.com/faq.
Based in San Mateo, California, Freedom Debt Relief also operates an office in Tempe, Arizona, and employs more than 2,200 people. The company has been voted one of the best places to work in both the San Francisco Bay Area and the Phoenix area for several years.
Contact: Michael Micheletti, [email protected], 415-359-6985
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