Sick at work More than a quarterof survey respondents said that they or someone in their householdhad gone without needed health care because they felt they couldnot afford it. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Americans report that health care bills are the ones they havethe most difficulty paying, according to a new poll from Monmouth University.

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The poll asked consumers how difficult it was to pay for thefollowing items: rent; groceries; health insurance premiums; healthcare deductibles and out-of-pocket costs; and taxes.

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Health care premiums and deductible/out-of-pocket costs were the top responses inthe “very difficult” category. Deductibles and out-of-pocket healthcosts were ranked “very difficult” by 20 percent of respondents,followed by heath insurance, which was rated “very difficult” by 18percent of those polled. The next-highest response for “verydifficult” was taxes, at 15 percent.

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Related: Data shows health care costs skyrocketing by2040

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Paying taxes (26 percent) came in first for the “somewhatdifficult” response, but the two health categories came in secondand third, with health insurance at 22 percent, and deductibles andout-of-pocket expenses at 25 percent.

Costs on the rise

The poll also found that more than 45 percent of consumersreported seeing health care costs rise in the past two years.Twenty-one percent of respondents said health costs had gone up alot; 25 percent said their health care costs had gone up somewhat.Forty-four percent of Americans said health care costs had stayedabout the same over the past two years. Prices had gone down forrelatively few respondents (6 percent).

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One in five respondents said there has been a time in the pasttwo years that they had to choose between paying for health careand paying for things like rent or mortgages. That 20 percentanswer was the same as the last time the poll was taken, in Marchof 2017. In addition, 27 percent of respondents said that they orsomeone in their household had gone without needed health carebecause they felt they could not afford it. This was down a bitfrom 2017, when 31 percent of Americans said they had made thatchoice.

An affect on jobs

The poll also asked about how health care cost concerns affecthow people think about their job situations. Americans were asked,if they were to consider taking another job or starting their ownbusiness, how much a factor access to health insurance coveragewould be in that decision. “Major factor” polled 49 percent in thisquestion; “minor factor” was at 21 percent; “not a factor” waschosen by 26 percent, and 4 percent said they didn't know.

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When asked whether this had actually happened—whether, in thepast ten years, they had chosen not to pursue other opportunitiesbecause of a need to maintain current health insurance coverage, 20percent said it had happened, and 78 said it had not happened.

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“The growth of health care costs remains a burden,” said PatrickMurray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.“There have been some slight improvements over the past two years,but a large number of Americans report that these concerns pervadenearly every aspect of their lives. The fact that health care istied to employment has a negative impact for many people on jobmobility and potential entrepreneurship.”

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