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New Survey: A Snapshot of WA's Economic Insecurity

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 By Chris ThomasContact
February 5, 2009

Olympia, WA - The latest economic snapshot of Washington State comes from AARP Washington. Its survey of 800 voters, released today, indicates financial concerns among every age group, but particularly those over 50. Almost half will delay retirement if things don’t turn around soon, and nearly one-in-five retirees says they’ll go back to work.

Ingrid MacDonald, who represents AARP in Olympia, says one reason is the need for health insurance.

"We still have a growing number of people completely uninsured in our state, including a large number of people between the ages of 50 and 64, of pre-retirement age. That’s the fastest growing group of the uninsured."

The survey found 45 percent of Washingtonians are worried about losing health care coverage. Even more are concerned about paying for prescriptions, and 61 percent are worried about long-term care costs.

One-third of respondents say they’re having a hard time paying for food or medicine, and one-in-five struggles to pay for housing and utilities. The survey finds many have stopped putting money into retirement savings, while 14 percent have had to take some out early. The message to state lawmakers, says MacDonald, is this is not the time to gut social services.

"Cutting health and long-term care in a recession is exactly the wrong way to go. In these tough times, these are services that people need more than ever. So number one is, let’s not go backwards -- let’s do no harm."

More than 70 percent of those surveyed believe affordable health care should be a priority, and almost as many believe the costs should be shared by individuals and businesses, not just paid for by government. MacDonald says the findings underscore the need to shore up the state’s Basic Health Plan and Adult Day Health programs, both of which are slated for cuts in the legislature.

The survey, Economic Health and Insecurity, can be viewed online at www.aarp.org/wa.

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