Retirement and uninsured medical expenses are the most pressing financial concerns for Americans, according to a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive.

While retirement captures the top spot on a list of 15 financial concerns, cited by 12% of survey respondents, uninsured medical expenses follow closely with 11% of the respondents. That’s an increase from 6% in 2008 and 8% in 2009.

“If you don’t have health insurance and can get it, do so even if all you can afford is catastrophic coverage,” said Jordan Amin, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Far too many people, especially younger ones, decide to forego any health insurance because of the cost and then regret the decision when they finally need it.”

Eighty-six percent of the survey respondents reported having some form of health insurance. However, 58% of those with coverage have seen their premiums increase in the past year. Just over half of the insured say their premiums have increased up to 10%, while a quarter said their premiums went up 11% to 20%. A total of 17% said their premiums have increased more than 21%.

For the uninsured, it’s not surprising the most common reason why they don’t have health insurance is that they can’t afford it (47%). Much smaller percentages indicate their employer doesn’t provide health insurance (17%) or that they are currently unemployed (16 percent).

When asked how the uninsured pay for medical costs, half go untreated and indicate they don’t seek medical attention because they can’t afford it. However, if the uninsured need medical treatment, they use their credit card, tap into an emergency fund, or borrow from family or friends.

The National CPA Financial Literacy Commission is currently running two campaigns to educate people about how to save for retirement, “360 Degrees of Financial Literacy” and “Feed the Pig.”

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