By Kelly Ann Smith
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new study reveals nearly 40 percent of Americans faced difficulty meeting at least one basic need for food, health care, housing or utilities in 2017.
By most broad measures, the economy is booming.
Economic growth is up, unemployment is back to pre-recession levels, jobs are abundant and the current bull market is almost a decade old.
But a closer look suggests things might not be so rosy.
A recent paper released by the Urban Institute reports that nearly 40 percent of Americans faced difficulty meeting at least one basic need for food, health care, housing or utilities in 2017.
It isn’t just those below the poverty line who can’t afford basic needs _ college-educated, healthy, middle-class workers are struggling, too.
Unexpected income drops and expenses are hurting Americans
The three most common hardships families reported in the study were:
1. Food insecurity: Defined by factors including cutting or skipping meals due to affordability, eating less because there was not enough money for food and not being able to afford balanced and healthy meals.
2. Forgoing medical care because of high cost: Unmet medical care includes: general doctor care, specialist care, prescriptions, skipping follow-up care, and not being able to afford dental care, mental health care and substance use treatment or counseling.
3. Problems paying for family medical bills: When families can’t afford medical bills, they might charge them on credit cards and fall behind on their payments. Having a chronic condition increases the likelihood of this hardship.
Choosing between basic needs
When Taylor Lynch had her first cervical cancer scare with an irregular pap smear, she was 20 years old and still on her parent’s health insurance. When her doctors recommended she have routine, four-month checkups, she didn’t think twice.