Healthcare, Poverty Perceptions Still Major Issues in Nebraska

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Lincoln, Neb.-- Healthcare costs and access to those services continue to be a pressing issue for Nebraskans, according to a recent survey conducted by Community Action of Nebraska.

The survey was mailed to 10,000 residents across the state with different backgrounds, asking them questions about the most pressing challenges facing Nebraskans.

Community Action conducted a similar survey in 2010.

More than half of the people surveyed said they found it difficult to find affordable medical, vision and dental care. In 2013, 60 percent of respondents delayed medical care because of costs, down from 67 percent in 2010.

Also, 33 percent of Nebraskans said they had problems accessing disability services.

Community Action said it's still too early in the Affordable Care Act policy to really determine how this law has impacted the access to these services.

Housing and payments are still a problem for many homeowners, too. In both 2013 and 2010, homeowners at lower income levels said their average payments for utilities and mortgages take up more than half of their annual household income.

The perceptions of why people are in poverty didn't change for people making more than $80,000. These residents cited low motivation, lack of training/education and drug abuse/addiction as why some Nebraskans are in poverty.

Residents making less than $25,000 cited low motivation, lack of training/education and drug abuse/addiction, as well. In 2010, they said lack of training/education was the number one reason.

But, Amber Hansen, the executive director of the Community Action Partnership, said the low motivation tag is extremely misleading. Hansen said many people in poverty want to work and educate themselves, but often lack the resources or know-how to do so.

Financially, one in five respondents reported credit card debt greater than $5,000. According to the survey, nearly 31 percent spent savings to meet day-to-day living expenses. Fifty-three percent reported their financial status was about the same, 28 percent reported it was worse and 19 percent said they were better off than a year ago.

Community Action uses the survey results to evaluate and revise their programs/services to better fit the needs of their communities.

The survey was funded by Community Action and a grant discretionary fund.

For all the survey results, including a breakdown of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, the survey is available at