Nearly 1 in 6 workers in the US have cut back on health-related expenses due to inflation

Parents are almost twice as likely as non-parents to cut back on expenses related to their own health

CHICAGO, Feb. 23, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TELUS Health (formerly LifeWorks) today released its monthly Mental Health Index revealing that 13 percent of workers in the United States said inflation is causing them to cut back on health-related expenses, such as out-of-pocket health services, glasses and gym memberships. An additional four percent have cut back on prescription medicine. Jointly, these cuts represent more than 34 million or 1 in 6 workers and their families.

The Index found that workers in the United States are experiencing strain with an unfavourable mental health score despite a significant bump in January.    

  • The Mental Health Index score for January 2023 is 72.0 points out of 100, a significant improvement from December 2022 and on par with the highest level since the Index began reporting scores in April 2020.

Inflation and financial pressures are impacting the mental health of workers and their ability to seek healthcare

  • On average, workers in the United States who reduced spending on prescription medications due to inflation have a mental health score of 52.8, which is 19 points below the national average.
  • Individuals who say inflation caused them to reduce spending on general health-related expenses scored 58.1, nearly 14 points below the national average.
  • Workers without emergency savings are more than three times as likely to cut health-related expenses as those with emergency savings and more than four times as likely to cut prescription spending.
  • Workers in the United States who report a decline in their marital/partner relationship are most likely to report financial pressure as a key reason (22 percent). This group has a mental health score of 52.0.

Avoidance of social interaction exacerbates isolation, a key mental health risk

  • Twenty-four percent of survey respondents avoid being with or interacting with others, scoring 56.6 compared to a score of 79.7 for people who do not avoid interaction.
  • Three in five (60 percent) report their avoidance started or worsened since the pandemic began, and have a mental health score of 53.4, more than 18 points below the national average.
  • Workers in the United States under 40 years old are 70 percent more likely than those over 50 to avoid being with others.
  • Age and financial security impact the ability to control emotions, according to the survey. Workers in the United States under 40 are more than twice as likely to have difficulty, and people without emergency savings are almost three times as likely to have difficulty.

Comments from TELUS Health Chief Operating Officer, Michael Dingle
“The current economic environment is leading many employees to feel pressure to prioritize finances over their health and wellbeing. This is an impossible choice as one is not mutually exclusive from the other – in fact, financial wellbeing is a fundamental contributor to overall health. Employers play a critical role in supporting the wellbeing of their employees, and can do so successfully by offering comprehensive Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that include health benefits and financial counselling.”

Comments from TELUS Health Global Leader, Research and Total Wellbeing, Paula Allen
“Our data shows that, despite some recent improvement, we continue to be under strain. A major concern is that the same strain often increases the behaviors that isolate us. The isolation then makes our stress worse. This cycle can significantly worsen mental health. The best thing is to address the source of the strain and/or look carefully at how you respond. Counseling can help you see things more objectively and leverage problem-solving and stress-management skills that you might already have but have forgotten during stressful times. EAPs offer voluntary confidential support for a wide range of issues and can help prevent a negative cycle.”

The full US Mental Health Index report by TELUS Health can be found here. This month, the report includes additional insights on remote work, wellbeing of children and more.

LifeWorks is a wholly owned subsidiary of TELUS now operating as part of TELUS Health as a result of its recent acquisition.

About the Mental Health Index 
The monthly survey by TELUS Health was conducted online from January 17 to 24, 2023 with 5,000 respondents in the United States who were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflect this population. The Mental Health Index is published monthly, beginning April 2020. Benchmark data was collected in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The Mental Health Index is based on a response scoring system that then turns individual responses into point values. Higher point values are associated with better mental health and less mental health risk. Scores between 0 to 49 correspond with distress levels, scores between 50 to 79 correspond with strain levels and scores between 80 to 100 correspond with optimal levels of mental health.  

About TELUS Health
TELUS Health is a global healthcare leader serving people in more than 160 countries delivering both digital innovation and clinical services to improve total physical, mental and financial health and wellness across the full spectrum of primary and preventative care. By leveraging the power of technology to deliver connected solutions and services both in-person and virtually, TELUS Health is improving access to care and revolutionizing the flow of information while facilitating collaboration, efficiency, and productivity for physicians, pharmacists, health authorities, allied healthcare professionals, insurers, employers and people globally, progressing its vision of transforming healthcare and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Our clinical team is composed of renowned and passionate health professionals around the world delivering best-in-class people-centric care to hundreds of thousands of employers, professionals and their families.

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Media contact:

Jill Yetman
TELUS Health Media Relations

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