The Bad Economy Prompts Americans To Expect Better Health But Worse Healthcare Provision

A New Survey from Havas Worldwide (formerly known as EuroRSCG Worldwide) Shows That Americans Are Responding to Financial Gloom with Cost-Cutting and Cautious Optimism

The ongoing economic crisis is hitting Americans’ spending on healthcare but not necessarily their health. More than two-fifths (43 percent) say their financial situation is worse than it was a year ago, and many are responding by finding ways to reduce their spending on healthcare. Almost one-third (31 percent) have economized on healthcare consultations, and more than a quarter (28 percent) of Americans have figured out ways to reduce spending on prescriptions and medication.

Nevertheless, despite tighter finances and a somber zeitgeist, many Americans are a lot more chipper than might be expected. A hefty 83 percent rate their current health positively, and 22 percent even say their health has improved over the past year (although 15 percent say it’s worse). Looking ahead, 27 percent expect their health to improve, and 62 percent expect no change.

A new online survey on the economy and health commissioned by global integrated marketing communications agency Euro RSCG Worldwide in recent weeks shows that an overwhelming 91 percent of the 750 adults polled have been thinking a lot more about serious issues, especially in relation to healthcare. The bad economy and the heavy issues on the political and economic agenda have had a negative effect on the mood of 76 percent of Americans; consequently, 45 percent report that it has had some effect on their health.

“Things have been unremittingly bleak and heavy over the past four years: the subprime crisis, the financial crisis, the healthcare reform wrangling, the budget crisis, job losses, and unemployment. It’s no surprise to find that many people are suffering, but it’s amazing and heartening to see how many Americans haven’t been ground down by it all,” said Julie Monroid, partner and chief strategic officer of Havas Worldwide Health, America’s top marketing communications consultancy focused on the health and wellness sector and professional pharmaceutical marketing. “The dire economic news just keeps coming, and clearly a lot of people have been badly affected, yet the survey results show a lot more positivity and resilience than you might have expected. After all those years of apparent plenty, Americans are now figuring out ways to maintain good health and good spirits through tougher times.”

Describing their mood and behavior in response to the economy, 56 percent say they are more cautious, 32 percent are more resourceful, and 22 percent are more determined. More than half (52 percent) are trimming back on avoidable expenses such as dining out, movies, luxuries, and big-ticket items to save money for medical needs. A solid 39 percent are actively working to avoid problems by eating more healthily, exercising more, and practicing relaxation techniques (on some statements respondents could check more than one box).

Although 21 percent of respondents expect their financial position to deteriorate, a bigger 33 percent expect their finances to improve, and 47 percent expect no change; the latter two answers surely count as optimistic in the current economic and political climate.

Other detailed findings include:

·  More men than women report negatively affected mood.Almost half (45 percent) of men say their mood has been affected heavily or noticeably, compared with 33 percent of women.

·  More women than men are thinking more about job securityand health coverage. The crisis has prompted 40 percent of women to think more about job security, compared with 33 percent of men; 37 percent of women are thinking more about healthcare coverage versus 33 percent of men.

·  There have been extensive negative impacts on personal finance. Assessing their current financial situation, 43 percent rate themselves worse off than a year ago, 47 percent the same, and 10 percent better. Assessing how much they’ve been financially affected, 21 percent say heavily, 29 percent noticeably, 33 percent somewhat, 10 percent barely, and 7 percent not at all.

·  Most Americans rate their health positively. The great majority of Americans give their health a positive score, ranging from 38 percent saying good to 35 percent very good to 10 percent excellent.

·  There is a net overall improvement in health. Fifteen percent of Americans reckon their health is somewhat better in the past year, and 7 percent rate it much better. At the other end of the scale, 12 percent rate their health somewhat worse and 3 percent much worse.

·  More than a quarter of Americans have sought medication savings. Twenty-eight percent of Americans have changed their approach to prescriptions and medication, including switching to cheaper alternatives (13 percent), reducing the frequency of some medication (8 percent), considering cheaper alternatives (8 percent), stopping some medication (7 percent), switching to over-the-counter medication (7 percent), consulting an adviser to stretch medication dollars (5 percent), and trying alternatives such as acupuncture and yoga (3 percent).

·  Almost a third are saving on medical consultations. Thirty-one percent have changed their approach to medical consultations by reducing the frequency (12 percent), switching to cheaper alternatives (8 percent), stopping some consultations (8 percent), and doing more self-diagnosis (7 percent).

·  Some niggling health effectsare appearing because of the financial gloom. A majority of 55 percent reports no health effects from the economy. The most prevalent negative results reported by the rest affect mood (22 percent), sleep (18 percent), weight (14 percent), blood pressure (11 percent), digestion (6 percent), and fitness (6 percent).

There are net positive expectations on personal health, net negative on healthcare provision. Sixty-two percent expect no upcoming change in their own health, 26 percent expect it to improve, and 11 percent expect it to decline. On healthcare provision, 27 percent expect it to deteriorate, 58 percent expect no change, and 16 percent expect it to improve.

About Havas Worldwide Health
Havas Worldwide Health owns the Euro RSCG Life and Health4Brands (H4B) networks. The Havas Worldwide Health network has a uniquely unified model, with all disciplines—medical, strategy, managed markets, medical education, digital, DTP/DTC, advertising, and PR—inside one agency, with one P&L. This allows us to deliver channel-agnostic solutions that are right for our clients’ brands without the traditional silos and intra-agency complexities. Also, with more than 2000 employees in 60 agencies in over 50 countries, Havas Worldwide Health has a presence in all the major regions and markets. Havas Worldwide Health is the global health holding company within Havas Worldwide (Euronext Paris: HAV.PA), a global advertising and communications services group headquartered in Paris.