An increasing number of people in the United States are skipping the medical treatments they need because of the cost, according to a survey.
The poll, conducted by Gallup and West Health, found that the percentage of people skipping these treatments reached a new high during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also revealed that the pandemic has worsened views on the U.S. healthcare system and heightened concerns about unequal access to care.
The survey was carried out “over successive periods in the field” from September 27 to 30 and from October 18 to 21. It included 6,663 adults living in the United States and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for “response percentages of about 50%” and plus or minus 1.3 percentage points. for ‘response percentages of about 10% or 90%.
Increase in the number of people skipping medical treatments
Thirty percent of those polled said they or a member of their household had had a health problem in the past three months for which they had not sought treatment due to the cost of care, revealed the poll. That’s up from 14% in a June survey and 10% in a March survey.
It is also the “highest number reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” West Health said.
The poll also found that 30% of adults said they “wouldn’t have access to affordable care if they needed it today” – up from 22% in June, according to Gallup. An additional 23% said that the costs of health care are a “major financial burden” on their family, and 71% agreed that their household “pays too much for the quality of health care they receive”.
Forty-two percent said they fear they won’t be able to pay for the health services they need next year.
The poll also found that Americans are increasingly forgoing the drugs prescribed to them.
Fourteen percent of those polled said that in the past three months, they had not been able to afford the drugs their doctor prescribed. This is double from 7% in June and 6% in March.
âAmericans have reached their breaking point,â Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of West Health, said in a press release. âBetween March and October, the percentage of people reporting problems paying for health care, skipping treatments and not filling their prescriptions reached its highest level since the start of the pandemic, exacerbating another health threat public due to cost rather than disease. “
Behind the increase
Gallup and West Health note that inflation and other factors related to the pandemic are likely to be behind these trends.
The consumer price index, which measures the average change over time in the prices that âurban consumersâ pay for goods and services, rose 6.8% year-on-year in November, the highest annual increase since June 1982. Food prices increased by 6.1%, the prices of energy services increased by 10.7% and gasoline prices by 58.1% compared to November 2020.
“As consumers spend more on basic groceries, utilities and gasoline – causing hardship for 45% of households – the effects of the simultaneous rising costs of care are likely to exacerbate their ability to afford it.” , Gallup said.
Gallup pointed to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released in August that found 72% of each state’s two largest insurers no longer waive out-of-pocket expenses for certain COVID-19 treatments.
âThat, coupled with the large summer increase in hospitalizations, resulted in a lot more money being paid out of pocket for affected Americans and a lot less money available for other household expenses,â Gallup said.
He also noted that reports suggest that people who avoided elective treatments in 2020 are receiving them in 2021, which “drives up general healthcare use and increases costs.”
The poll also shows that 8.6% of people in the United States, or about 28 million people, had no health insurance at any time in 2020, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Additionally, many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and in turn may have lost their employment-related health insurance.
COVID-19 and health system advisory
Forty-eight percent of respondents said the pandemic had made their views about the health care system worse.
The survey found that 59% said they had become more concerned about the cost of health services and 45% said they had become more concerned about the costs of prescription drugs during the pandemic.
Respondents are also more concerned about inequalities in health care.
Sixty percent said they were more concerned that “some Americans have unequal access to quality health services.” This increased to 74% among black respondents and 68% among Hispanic respondents.
Gallup and West Health also noted that there is a “racial divide” in the consequences of failing to take health treatments.
“One in 20 American adults – approximately 12.7 million people – say they know a friend or family member who died last year after not receiving treatment because they could not afford it Gallup wrote. “Black adults (8%) are twice as likely as white adults (4%) to know someone who has died.”
Dan Witters, senior researcher at Gallup, said in the West Health press release that the worsening public opinion on “the affordability of care and medication is surprising.”
“From rapidly rising inflation, to deferred care pushed back into 2021, to more people having to pay for COVID-19 care themselves, the health care cost crisis in the United States is now reaching its peak. climax, âWitters said.