“We were surprised by the magnitude of the findings,” said Dr. Zia Agha, chief medical officer at the West Health Institute, a nonprofit applied medical research organization based in San Diego. “And 80% of the people we surveyed had health insurance, so just having insurance does not make you immune to health care costs.”
The researchers at West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago (a nonpartisan research institution) interviewed 1,302 adults. Their findings were released at the American Society on Aging’s 2018 Aging in America conference in San Francisco.
Age 45 to 59 skipping health care
Specifically, the survey found these results for people age 45 to 59 (members of Generation X and boomers) as a result of health care costs:
- 49% didn’t go to the doctor last year when they were sick or injured
- 45% skipped a recommended medical test or treatment
- 43% didn’t go to a dentist when they needed treatment
- 40% went without a routine physical or other preventive health care
- 30% didn’t fill a prescription or took less than the prescribed dose of medicine
Age 60+ skipping health care
The percentages were less dramatic for people 60 + (boomers aged 60 to 72 and Americans older than 72) — perhaps partly because those 65 and older have Medicare. But they are still concerning:
- 30% didn’t go to a dentist last year when they needed treatment
- 27% went without a routine physical or other preventive health care
- 25% didn’t fill a prescription or took less than the prescribed dose of medicine
- 25% skipped a recommended medical test or treatment
- 24% didn’t go to the doctor when they were sick or injured
Younger Americans were even more likely to go without health care due to costs last year, the survey found.
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