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More Than a Third of Health Care Workers Worry About Meeting Financial Obligations

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While it comes as no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a hefty toll on the mental health and stress levels of health care workers, it’s also negatively impacted their finances.

HERO Registry, a nationwide community of health care workers with more than 26,500 members, found that the pandemic has impacted everything from child care costs to reduced work hours. And it has affected health care workers from physicians to paramedics to health technicians.

Here’s what else we learned from the survey.

Finances have created anxiety among health care workers

Among the more than 2,000 health care workers who were surveyed, 34.3% reported being more worried about meeting financial obligations. The survey revealed that the heightened feelings of anxiety about their finances stemmed largely from circumstances.

Compared to before the pandemic:

  • 22.3% of health care workers reported reduced income
  • 17.9% reported reduced work hours
  • 9.1% reported furloughs or forced leave of absences

A decrease in income was reported by:

  • 31% of doctors
  • 22.6% of health technicians
  • 21.5% of physician assistants and nurse practitioners
  • 21% of paramedics and emergency medical technicians

Health care workers needing to leave their jobs to tend to their families or having to handle the unexpected loss of a family member’s job contributed to this loss of income. These workers might have faced unexpected costs after contracting COVID-19.

Rising housing costs weigh on health care workers

Uncertainty and changes outside of one’s control, from changes to retirement or health benefits or alterations to overtime pay procedures, contributed to financial stress. But respondents also cited housing costs as a financial problem amid the pandemic.

The average sales price of a home in the U.S. jumped more than 6% from $374,500 in the second quarter of 2020 to $397,800 in the third quarter, according to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. Contributing factors included record-low interest rates, housing supply shortages and a shift in spending toward housing.

How to reduce financial stress

A separate survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 84% of Americans are suffering from financial stress because of the pandemic, so health care workers aren’t alone.

If you’re struggling:

  • Consider seeking government assistance
  • Try to lower expenses or find extra work opportunities
  • Reach out to your support network to seek care if you have school-age children

If you’re saddled with credit card debt, look toward options such as credit counseling or debt consolidation. If there are blemishes on your credit, order a free credit report and review it for errors. Depending on your situation, it might be useful to talk to a financial counselor.

Methodology: In January 2021, the HERO Registry — which is coordinated by the Duke Clinical Research Institute — conducted a survey of more than 2,000 health care workers.


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