Despite the fact there are increased numbers of insured Americans, fewer are going to the doctor’s office. Why is this happening? The answer is lack of affordability. Even with the benefits of health insurance, many struggle to afford medical costs.

A survey by the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago between one-third and one-half of people ages 45 to 59 and one-quarter of those 60 or over went without needed health care in the past year due to its cost. Dr. Zia Agha, Chief Medical Officer at West Health Institute, further comments on the study saying “80% of the people we surveyed had health insurance, so just having insurance does not make you immune to health care costs.”

Additionally, these groups who now tend to avoid the doctor do not feel they receive good value for their dollar. In part, this is due to a lack of price transparency and lack of health care competition. Consumers of health care have very little information about the cost of care which can lead to making poor decisions that can negatively impact costs. This lack of cost transparency is a large contributing factor to increasing health care costs.

The results of the survey charted above show a dangerous health trend for people age 45 to 59:

  • 49% did not go to the doctor last year when sick or injured
  • 45% skipped a recommended medical test or treatment
  • 43% did not go to a dentist when they needed treatment
  • 40% went without a routine physical or other preventive health care
  • 30% did not fill a prescription or took less than the prescribed dosage

While the percentages were somewhat less dramatic for people 60 or older (which may be in part because those 65 and older have Medicare).The numbers however are still a cause for concern:

  • 30% did not go to a dentist last year when they needed treatment
  • 27% went without a routine physical or other preventive health care
  • 25% did not fill a prescription or took less than the prescribed dosage
  • 25% skipped a recommended medical test or treatment
  • 24% did not go to the doctor when sick or injured

Americans should not have to pick their financial health over their physical health. Avoiding routine medical checkups can lead to disastrous long term consequences both for the person as well as for the stability of the medical care system as a whole. Chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension left under treated or untreated become a more magnified problem in the form of heart disease, kidney failure and increased risk of stroke. Early intervention in these chronic diseases is the moment where medical treatment can help the most and put less strain on the medical care system. It is a lot like your financial health.

The earlier you begin planning and saving for retirement years the better the outcome will be.

Fifty-three percent of the overall survey respondents faced one or both of the following financial problems in the last year due to health care costs; they had to deplete their savings or they had to incur credit card debt. They had to choose between their physical and financial well-being. They had to go into debt or not save money if they opted for health care treatment.

We help families plan ahead to avoid the financial devastation that can result from the high costs of health care. If you would like to learn more, please contact our office to set up a time to meet.