Nation Skips Health Care Due To High Costs

April 8, 2009
Print
Text Size:
A A

A recent national survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than half of the nation’s households postponed or skipped medical treatments last year due to cost concerns.

The survey also found that an even larger number of Americans want the country’s health care industry to be reformed in a fashion that will lower costs.

“Experts and policymakers have multiple agendas in health reform, but when half the public reports skimping on care because they can’t afford it, it’s very clear that what the public wants most from health reform is relief from health care costs,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman in a release.

The February survey found that 53 percent reported their households cut back on health care because of costs. Thirty-five percent said they took a home remedy or an over-the-counter drug instead of visiting a doctor, while 34 percent said they skipped a dentist appointment.

Twenty-seven percent put off health care they knew they needed. Most of those delayed going to a doctor for a temporary illness or for preventive care. But nearly as many reported they postponed care for a chronic illness like diabetes or they delayed surgery.

Other findings were:

21 percent didn’t fill a prescription.

20 percent said they have experienced financial problems due to medical bills.

15 percent said they cut their medications in half.

13 percent said they have spent all or most their savings to pay medical bills.

In addition, 45 percent said they were very worried about having to pay more for care or insurance — the highest proportion Kaiser has found in a survey since 2006. Another third is worried that they will lose their insurance coverage this year.

Sixty-two percent said the nation’s economic problems make health care reform more important than ever. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents supported reforming the industry now, while 58 percent of Republicans said now was not the time for reform.

Despite a majority calling for changes, only 39 percent felt a reformed industry would benefit them or their family. Eleven percent said they would be worse off under a reformed health system. But both responses indicated a move toward reform has grown stronger.

“Far more people see themselves directly benefiting from health reform and far fewer see themselves being negatively affected than we saw in the Clinton health reform debate,” said Altman of the former president’s push for universal care in 1993.

“Today’s economic anxieties have created a better starting point for health reform than we saw last time around,” he added.

Seventy-two percent reported they most trusted President Barack Obama to make the necessary changes. (See chart below.)

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted the survey Feb. 3-12 with a nationally representative random sample of 1,204 adults ages 18 and older. Phone interviews were conducted on landlines and cells in English and Spanish. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percent. HQ

Who America trusts to reform medical industry

President Barack Obama is the most trusted name in health care reform, according to a national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation earlier this year. The survey found that 72 percent of Americans have either a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the new president to do the “right thing for health care reform.”


President Barack Obama
Doctors’ organizations
Congressional Democrats
AARP
Small business groups
Labor unions
Congressional Republicans
Health & insurance groups
Major corporations

A great deal
46%
21%
23%
20%
12%
12%
7%
8%
5%

A fair amount
26%
39%
34%
37%
36%
28%
31%
19%
20%

A little
14%
28%
22%
25%
36%
29%
32%
41%
41%

None
11%
8%
18%
10%
12%
27%
26%
31%
30%

Note: “Don’t know” or “refused” responses are not shown.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, February 2009

Recent Articles by David Czurak

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus