Friday, June 27, 2008

Doctor's Visit? Can't Afford It

A new report by the Center for Studying Health System Change has just been released that sheds some light on American behavior patterns as the cost of care continues to escalate. Out-of-pocket expenditures are driving more and more people to opt out when it comes to the care that they need, and cost is the factor driving this trend.

Sarah Rubenstein of The Wall Street Journal reports:

About 20% of the respondents in a 2007 survey of 18,000 people said that they had put off or gone without needed medical treatment at some point in the year earlier, up from 14% in a 2003 survey. [...]

Of those who said in the 2007 survey they had scrimped, 69% cited concern about cost as a reason.
I'm sure that a moment's thought will bring to mind people that you, our reader, know on a personal level that have made decisions like this. I know I do. As a matter of fact, I have been one of those who has put off long overdue checkups and medical care simply due to the fact that even with insurance I cannot afford it. As Ms. Rubenstein notes in her article, I am not alone in this:
While the uninsured reported the highest rate -- 38% -- of delaying or going without care, the biggest rate of increase in such reports was among people who had health insurance. Seventeen percent of insured respondents said that they had scrimped, which was up from 11% in the 2003 poll.
Deductibles, co-pays, and high price tags seem to combine to make a very effective "patent repellent." And even for those of us who are acutely aware of how much more expensive a health issue can become after being neglected there is still the financial bottom line. Medical care can often put a dent on one's personal finances that is so large that it can quickly become a matter of paying the bills or paying for treatment.

To help illustrate the point here is a video that I came across on Current that will introduce you to a woman who did not forgo treatment, a decision which cost her greatly.

SOURCE: "More Americans Delay Health Care: Cost Concerns Drive Even the Insured To Forgo Treatment" 06/26/08
SOURCE: "Uninsured in America" 06/11/08

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