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Chart: Fewer Americans have access to basic necessities

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Fewer Americans have access to basic life necessities, according to a Gallup index that surveys the public’s ability to pay for food, shelter, medicine and other fundamentals. Last month, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reached the lowest point since February/March 2009, the nadir of the recession. Overall, Americans’ well-being hasn’t recovered since the start of the recession.

Source: Gallup

That doesn’t mean that everything has stayed constant since the beginning of the recession in terms of access to life’s basic needs. Since September 2008, the items that have becoming increasingly out of reach have mostly been in the health-care arena: the percentage of Americans who say they have a personal doctor has declined 4.2 percent (from 82.5 percent to 78.3 percent), those who have health insurance has dropped 3.6 percent (from 85.9 percent to 82.3 percent), and dental visits have dropped 2.6 percent.

By contrast, the percent of those polled who say they have access to adequate shelter and housing has dropped by just 1 percent — from 90.8 percent to 89.8 percent — which is a bit surprising in light of the housing meltdown. And the percentage of Americans who have access to fresh fruits and vegetables has actually risen slightly, from 90 percent to 90.6 percent.

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