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Inflation taking a toll on health care and nutrition decisions in U.S.

New Nationwide Retirement Institute® survey reveals nearly a quarter of young people skipped meals or didn’t buy groceries because of high inflation

Columbus, OH - 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 one 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.”

Financial professionals can help Americans stay on track toward their short- and long-term financial goals

Though Americans are making daily decisions and tradeoffs to manage high inflation, many have not put a plan in place to pay for health care expenses in the near term and stay on track to meet their retirement goals in the long term. For example:

  •  Less than a fifth of Americans (17%) have adjusted their family’s budget to pay for health care expenses in the past 12 months
  • The majority (72%) report that one of their top fears in retirement is their health care costs going out of control, but only 39% have a plan to pay for health care costs in retirement
  • 15% have delayed a large purchase or investment to pay for health care expenses in the past 12 months

“The role financial professionals play in creating more secure financial futures for their clients is even more important during high inflation,” Rodriguez said. “By incorporating health care into financial planning conversations, financial professionals can help clients better prepare for the rising costs of health care.”

To help financial professionals guide these conversations, Nationwide’s Health Care Cost Assessment tool uses proprietary health risk analysis and updated actuarial cost data to help financial professionals and clients estimate future medical and long-term care expenses.

To help guide clients through their Medicare options, Nationwide® teamed up with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to create the NCOA My Medicare Matters® tool brought to you by Nationwide. Consumers can learn more and complete an assessment at https://nationwide.mymedicarematters.org/.

Benefits Checkup® is an NCOA tool that helps people with Medicare determine if they may be eligible for the Medicare Savings Programs and Medicare Extra Help – two programs that help cover health care costs for people with low and moderate incomes.

To learn more about the 2022 Nationwide Retirement Institute Health Care Costs in Retirement consumer survey, visit www.nationwide.com/health careinsights.com. In addition, financial professionals can visit www.nationwidefinancial.com/health careinsights to learn more.

Survey Methodology
The research was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide among 1,140 adults age 18+ residing in the U.S. (“national sample”), including 283 Gen Z (18-25), 285 Millennials (26-41), 286 Gen X (42-57), 286 Boomers+ (58+).  The survey was conducted August 26 – September 8, 2022.  Data are weighted where necessary for those age 26+ by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, marital status, household size, household income and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Gen Z (18-25) data are weighted by age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, size of household and propensity to be online. 

About The Harris Poll 
The Harris Poll is a global consulting and market research firm that strives to reveal the authentic values of modern society to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. It works with clients in three primary areas: building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. One of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., The Harris Poll has tracked public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963, and is now part of Stagwell, the challenger holding company built to transform marketing.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities, mutual funds and ETFs; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

This material is not a recommendation to buy or sell a financial product or to adopt an investment strategy. Investors should discuss their specific situation with their financial professional.

This information is general in nature and is not intended to be tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice. The information provided is based on current laws, which are subject to change at any time, and has not been endorsed by any government agency.

My Medicare Matters® is a registered trademark of the National Council on Aging.

Nationwide, the Harris Poll and National Council on Aging are separate and non-affiliated companies.

Nationwide Investment Services Corporation (NISC), member FINRA, Columbus, OH. Nationwide Retirement Institute is a division of NISC.

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