Cancer is the No. 1 health concern among our country's middle-income Americans, according to a new study released by Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions (IWS).
The study, Middle-Income America's Perspectives on Critical Illness and Financial Security, which surveyed 1,001 Americans ages 30 to 66 with an annual household income of between $35,000 and $99,999, found that 79% are somewhat concerned or very concerned about a cancer diagnosis, followed by heart disease (74%), stroke (70%), and Alzheimer's disease (60%).
The specific cancer types that elicit the most concern correlate heavily with gender. Prostate, colon and lung cancer are the largest concerns for men; for women, breast cancer is the predominant concern.
Highest concerns by critical illness type
Those concerned about cancer and heart disease feel most vulnerable to healthcare costs and the life-threatening nature of these illnesses. People most concerned about stroke and Alzheimer's/dementia, by contrast, feel vulnerable on quality-of-life issues and being able to maintain an independent life after a diagnosis and treatment.
The study also found that people tend to be more concerned about a loved one being diagnosed than themselves. Nearly half (47%) say they would be more concerned if a parent or child were diagnosed with cancer than themselves (38%).
"Practice healthy habits and seek regular care," said Barbara Stewart , President of Washington National Insurance Company. "A portion of critical illness diagnoses are attributable to genetics but others are attributable as result of unhealthy habits. Taking control of your wellness today may help to improve your odds for a long, healthy life."
External treatment sources
Many middle-income Americans equate health with wealth. About half (53%) strongly agree with the proposition that "people with more money receive higher-quality medical treatment". Uninsured consumers and African-Americans are more likely to feel that wealth influences treatment quality.
If faced with a critical illness diagnosis, about 7-in-10 say they probably would receive treatment in their own city or town, but half (54%) would seek care elsewhere if access or cost were not a concern.
The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic were frequently mentioned—especially in the Midwest—when they were asked where they would prefer to receive treatment if cost or access were not an issue.
External information sources
As sources of treatment information, healthcare providers and facilities are considered more than four times more important than other sources.
For financial information concerning health coverage, middle-income Americans consider health insurance companies most important, followed by healthcare providers and facilities.
No more than 10% would heavily rely on the Internet as their primary resource about treatment option or financial information.
Middle-Income America's Perspectives on Critical Illness and Financial Security, a study from the Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions, was conducted in January 2013 by Zeldis Research, an independent research firm. The full report can be viewed at WNInstituteforWellness.com.
A cross-generational nationwide sample of 1,001 middle-income Americans ages 30 to 66 with an annual household income of between $35,000 and $99,999 participated in the internet-based survey. Females and males each represented approximately 50% of survey participants.
None of the respondents had ever been diagnosed with any of the following critical illnesses: Alzheimer's disease or dementia, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. Respondents were excluded if they had Medicare, Medicaid or Medicare supplement insurance. Significant subsample differences were tested at the 95% confidence level.
Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions