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Report shows millions of jobless Americans forgoing needed health care, prescription drugs

A new report from The Commonwealth Fund examining the effect of the recession on health coverage for working-adults in the United States underscores the daily struggles of millions of Americans to afford medical care.

The survey of 3,033 adults was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from July 2010 to November 2010. The results showed many individuals lacking health coverage are saddled with medical debt or skipped needed health care or did not fill prescriptions because of cost:

In 2010, two of five (40%) adults ages 19 to 64, or 73 million people, reported some type of medical bill problem, including: problems paying medical bills, being contacted by a collection agency about unpaid bills, having to change their way of life in order to pay their bills, or paying off medical debt. This is up from 34 percent, or 58 million people, in 2005.

. . .Increasingly, cost has become a barrier to getting needed care. Two of five (41%) adults, or 75 million people, said that, because of the cost, they had not been able to get needed care, including not going to the doctor when they were sick, not filling a prescription, skipping a recommended test, treatment, or follow-up visit, or not getting needed specialist care. This was up from 29 percent, or 47 million people, in 2001.

Among the other findings:

  • A quarter (25%) of adults with a chronic condition who took prescriptions regularly said they had skipped doses or not filled a prescription for their health condition because of the cost. And more than half (52%) of uninsured adults with a chronic condition skipped doses or did not fill a prescription for their condition because of the cost.
  • Medical bill problems led people to make significant trade-offs, including using up all their savings, not being able to pay for necessities such as food, heat, or rent, incurring credit card debt, taking out a loan or mortgage against their home, or declaring bankruptcy. More than half (56%) or 41 million people with medical bill problems or debt reported making any one of these trade-offs.
  • The burden of health care costs has spread most dramatically among Americans with the lowest incomes. Among adults earning under 100 percent of poverty, fully half spent 10 percent or more of their income on health care costs in 2010--more than double the share who spent that much in 2001 (21%).

Previously: Being healthy out of financial reach for some families and Survey shows number of uninsured adults in U.S. increases to 52 million
Via U.S. News & World Report

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