Social security and health care costs concern most older Floridians, report finds

Financial access to health care and social security are among top concerns for Floridians aged 50+, according to a new member survey from AARP Florida. 

Over 1,000 Floridians responded to the survey, which took place between May 20 and August 18, 2021. The survey asked about respondents’ recent life experiences during the pandemic and their concerns about finances, health, work, and other social factors. 

 

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Social security was the top financial concern for over 80% of respondents. Health care expenses and retirement plan solvency followed, with 68% and 56% of respondents ranking them respectively. 

 

Image: AARP Florida

 

Financial impact from widespread job and social benefits losses during the pandemic may have influenced the rankings. The report also found that 28% of respondents experienced a reduction in income over the last two years. Additionally, 24% of respondents experienced a reduction in savings or assets, and 10% lost a job over the last two years.

Medicare benefits and staying mentally sharp were top health concerns among aging Floridians, according to 79% of respondents. Also ranking high among respondents were healthy living, health insurance, and declining physical health. 

The report went on to list negative health issues that members experienced over the last two years. 31% of respondents experienced chronic health problems, and one in four experienced a decline in physical health. 

Image: AARP Florida

 

Access to home and community-based settings and long-term care (LTC) are also top-of-mind for Florida members. Of the 85% of respondents who own their own home, 64% were concerned about the ability to stay in their home. 62% were concerned about access to LTC, and 58% were concerned about paying for it. 

The survey also offers an insight on how caregivers will impact access to care for older Floridians. About 40% of Florida members are concerned about providing care for a loved one. In the past two years, 8% had a family member move in with them and 6% had a parent or older relative move into a nursing home. 

Recent policy moves this past legislative session ensured certain rights to caregivers in Florida. On April 6, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 988, also known as the “No Patient Left Alone Act.” This bill requires health care facilities—including LTC settings—to allow essential caregivers to visit patients for at least two hours a day, regardless of vaccination status. The law will take effect July 1. 

“Floridians 50+ are facing some of the most critical challenges, including affording retirement, caregiving, access to affordable housing, remaining independent as they age, and much more,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said in a statement. “We asked AARP Florida members about their life experiences and concerns, and we’re sharing this survey snapshot with the hope that state leaders, policymakers, elected officials and candidates will take the opportunity to gain insight about this powerful demographic.”

Floridians 50+ made up 64% of Florida voters in 2018. It’s clear that they have significant influence in the Sunshine State. The 50+ will be the deciders in the 2022 midterm elections. It’s time to recognize and better understand what matters most to them.”

Johnson will speak about the future of health policy for aging Floridians at our 2022 Florida State of Reform Health Policy Conference on May 18th.