- As flu and coronavirus cases continue to rise across the U.S., researchers found that nearly half of Americans have no money saved for an unexpected illness.
- Despite coronavirus fears, more than two-thirds wouldn’t donate money towards a cure, the survey showed.
NEW YORK — The ongoing saga of the novel coronavirus feels like a bad dream, and we’re all waiting to wake up. Unfortunately, if recent events and headlines are anything to go on, it seems things in the United States may get worse before they get better. The coronavirus may not be the harbinger of the apocalypse that some reports are making it out to be, but it’s a serious health concern nonetheless. Whether it’s the flu, coronavirus, or any other winter ailment, Americans all over the country are suddenly being faced with the reality that it is at least possible that they’ll come down with an illness in the near future.
With that in mind, the results of a recent survey of 1,013 Americans paints a rather unprepared picture. Conducted by GOBankingRates, the research found that half of respondents have absolutely no savings in the event they come down with an illness and can’t work. That could be a big problem with coronavirus apparently poised to break into the U.S. in a big way.
Respondents were asked about a number of coronavirus related topics, with most being centered around finance. For now, at least, 90% said their pockets aren’t any lighter due to the virus. That may change in the coming weeks and months, though, with coronavirus already wreaking havoc on the global financial scene.
Meanwhile, the virus is making most Americans seriously reconsider visiting public places or taking trips. After being reminded of two recent cruise ships that had to quarantine passengers due to the coronavirus, two-thirds of respondents said they would turn down an all-expenses paid offer to take a cruise if offered such a deal today.
As far as age groups, older Americans are more concerned about the virus than younger adults. Regarding that cruise offer, 77% of respondents over the age of 65 said they would turn it down, while 53% and 61% of 18-24 and 25-34 year olds said the same, respectively.
Besides just a free cruise, 59% of all respondents said they would cancel any travels plans they may have made and take the subsequent financial losses on booked tickets, hotels, etc., if the area they were scheduled to see became a hotspot for the coronavirus. Again, more older respondents than younger shared this sentiment. Over 70% of over-65 respondents would cancel their plans, but younger respondents answers were largely split 50/50.
As mentioned before, participants were also asked about any financial hardships they’ve experienced due to the virus. While not that many said yes, that question was posed on February 20th, a day before big stock market declines that have largely been attributed to coronavirus anxiety. So, it’s possible things have already changed financially for some Americans since this poll.
“Consumer sentiment has yet to weaken with business confidence, but is vulnerable if corona-related cases climb here and/or there is a more visible U.S. economic impact from foreign-based disruptions,” says Gary Schlossberg, a global strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, in a statement. “Household finances are most directly and visibly affected by the hit to wealth from any extended slump in the stock market.
Still, at the time, 75% said they aren’t particularly worried that the virus will take money out of their pockets.
Coronavirus or not, it’s clear from the survey that many Americans need to seriously step up their saving game. Nearly 75% said they have less than $5,000 saved, and only 10% have more than $50,000. Considering the high cost of healthcare in the United States, such a savings approach could be a recipe for disaster.
Despite many Americans’ fears about the coronavirus, most (over two in three) said they wouldn’t be willing to donate money towards a cure.