May 18, 2009 in City

Strapped seniors take health risks

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Seniors on fixed incomes have always struggled to keep up with rising costs.

A new survey suggests they’re cutting more deeply into essentials during this recession, though.

Polling by the Senior Citizens League in the first three months of this year found that 42 percent of seniors said they have put off filling a prescription or taken less than the prescribed dose, both in an effort to save money.

That’s more than double the percentage who said they were taking those steps in a 2006 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“The numbers suggest a significant jump in seniors who report not filling a prescription, and they say the cause is the meltdown in retirement income sources,” Daniel O’Connell, chairman of the Senior Citizens League, a nonprofit advocacy group for older Americans, said in a news release. “Seniors who normally depend on pensions, retirement accounts, or real estate for income, in addition to Social Security, are in a financial wringer.”

People across all age groups are taking a similar tack, though it’s more pronounced among seniors. A Kaiser survey in February found that a fifth of all American households have not filled a prescription over cost concerns, and a sixth have reduced or skipped doses.

Don’t ignore the offline world

For people returning to the job market for the first time in years, it can be surprising how much has moved online.

Job postings are available online, applications are taken that way, job hunters post résumés online – some say nearly the entire process is on the Internet now.

But Robyn Crigger, CEO of Compass Career Management Solutions in Charlotte, N.C., warns people about relying too heavily on the online world to find work. He identified that as a “common mistake,” in a recent McClatchy story:

“A lot of people go online and try to find jobs, but they are one among thousands of qualified people. Few find jobs that way. There’s so much more to it than that. You have to stick to your schedule, get out and talk to different folks, target companies with the types of job you are looking for. It’s work, but people are still looking for the easy way out.”

Cutting benefits

More workers in Washington are doing without health and dental insurance, as employers cut benefits last year.

A survey by the state Employment Security Department found that 56.5 percent of the state’s employers provided health insurance to full-time workers in 2008. That’s down significantly from 2007, when 66.3 percent of businesses did so.

Dental insurance took a similar dive: 37.4 percent of employers offered it last year, compared with 46.5 percent in 2007.


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