A new national poll shows that the cost of health care continues to impact whether consumers seek recommended medical care or visit the doctor when they are sick or injured. The survey, from NORC at the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute shows approximately 40 percent of respondents skip medical care and 44 percent said they didn’t go to the doctor when needed.
“The February survey of more than 1,300 adults offers new insights into how Americans feel about the costs of health care and how they report those costs affect their medical decisions and personal finances,” according to a news release from NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research institution.
Other findings in the survey include:
About 30 percent of respondents reported that they had to decide between paying for medical bills or essentials such as food, heating or housing during the last year.
More people fear the medical bills that come with a serious illness over being sick (40 percent versus 33 percent, respectively.)
Respondents who said they skip recommended medical care were about two times more likely to fear getting sick (47 percent versus 24 percent, respectively) and the costs of care (60 percent versus 27 percent, respectively.)
“The high cost of health care has become a public health crisis that cuts across all ages as more Americans are delaying or going without recommended medical tests and treatments,” Zia Agha, chief medical officer at the West Health Institute, a nonprofit applied medical research organization based in San Diego, said in the news release. “According to this survey, most Americans do not feel they are getting a good value for their health care dollars, and the rising cost of health care is clearly having a direct consequence on American’s health-and financial well-being.”
Respondents to the survey also avoid medications due to the cost. “About one-in-three respondents report they did not fill a prescription or took less than the prescribed dose to save money. Dental care also suffered. Nearly half say they went without a routine cleaning or check up in the last year, and 39 percent say they did not go to the dentist when they needed treatment,” according to the news release. They also experience financial consequences due to the cost of health care and medical bills are often unexpected.
Over half of survey respondents said they have serious financial consequences due to the costs of health care. The consequences include using all or most of their savings (36 percent); borrowing money or adding to their credit card debt (32 percent); and lowering contributions to a savings plan (41 percent.)
Over half of survey respondents also said they received a medical bill for care they thought was paid for through their health insurance and a similar amount said they received bills at a higher amount than they expected. More than 25 percent of respondents said a medical bill was sent to a collection agency within the last year.
ACA International members may find more information on health care collections and billing practices through ACA SearchPoint™ (https://www.acainternational.org/searchpoint) using the health care tag.
More information on the survey: https://bit.ly/2GggwWK