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Economic and Health Insecurity: A Survey of Washington Voters 18+ on Current Legislative Issues

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Washington faces both economic and health care challenges this year and will likely focus on the increasing budget deficit and financial strains felt by voters. This November-December 2008 survey of 800 voters ages 18 and older residing in Washington State shows the extent of worry over various financial issues and measures taken due to economic changes over the past year.

Key findings revealed:

  • As a result of recent economic changes, 36% of working voters say they have considered delaying retirement in the past twelve months and 45% say they will consider delaying retirement if the economy does not improve over the next 12 months. Moreover, among those currently retired, 18% say they will re-enter the workforce if the economy does not improve.
  • A majority of respondents (71%) are worried about the security and safety of their retirement savings, and among working voters, 26% have stopped putting money in their 401(k) and one in ten have actually withdrawn investment funds early. One-third report difficulty paying for daily necessities like food, gas, or medicine (33%) or helping a family member pay their bills (34%). One in five find it difficult to pay utility bills (23%) or their rent or mortgage (21%).
  • Just under half of respondents are worried about losing their health care coverage. Additionally, approximately two-thirds are worried about having fewer health care services covered (65%), the quality of health care services declining (65%), long-term care (61%), and being able to afford health care services (58%).
  • Most (73%) think it is extremely or very important for the state to make health care more affordable for all residents and agree (68%) that individuals, employers, and the government should contribute financially to a plan that ensures everyone has access to quality, affordable health care coverage.
  • Respondents are inconsistent with respect to approaches to balance the state budget: 39% view a combination of raising taxes and cutting state services as the best approach to balancing the budget, while 41% think mostly cuts will balance the budget. Yet, voters overwhelmingly oppose cuts to health and long-term care services (76%) and education (74%), and 55% oppose the state cutting public safety services.

AARP commissioned RDD Field Services to conduct this random digit dial telephone survey with 800 Washington State residents who were 18 and older and voted in the election held November 4, 2008. The survey was conducted between November 26 and December 8, 2008. For more information, contact Jennifer Sauer at 202-434-6207. (27 pages)

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