Author Topic: Growing Number of U.S. Residents Delay Medical Care as Economy Worsens  (Read 641 times)

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Offline Optimus

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[Oct 16, 2008]
      The Washington Post on Thursday examined how "the global economic crunch is forcing a growing number of Americans to scale back on medical care." The number of people who have gone without a prescription, used retirement savings to pay for health services or skipped a doctor's appointment for themselves or a child has increased since last year, according to a study released this summer by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time Magazine. The study found that 25% of 2,000 respondents said in 2008 they skipped a doctor's visit because of cost, up from 18% in 2007, and 10% said they decided to forgo a visit to the doctor for their child for the same reason.

In addition, IMS Health this summer recorded the first decline in U.S. prescription drug spending after double-digit increases for almost a decade. Another survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that almost 20% of U.S. residents say they have trouble paying medical bills.

According to the Post, "Layoffs, shrinking bank accounts, rising medical prices and widespread anxiety that the economy is likely to worsen" are leading people to "split pills, forgo screening tests, ... delay elective procedures ... and turn to home remedies as cheaper alternatives." While the "burden is especially heavy for uninsured Americans, even those who have coverage are feeling the pinch" as employers raise deductibles and copayments for workers, the Post reports. Jean Mitchell, professor of public policy at Georgetown University, said, "The reason why health care was immune (to recessions) in the past was because most people were covered under good insurance plans," adding, "people are realizing, 'Oh my gosh, I have to pay for this out-of-pocket.'" Hospitals say more medical bills are going unpaid, while pharmacists report an increase in demand for low-cost generic drugs and overall demand for low-cost care is rising.

Many physicians have raised concerns that actions taken to save money in the short term could result in more severe -- and costly -- long-term health problems (Connolly/Marr, Washington Post, 10/16).
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people,
it's an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” – Patrick Henry

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