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Insured Patients Struggling with Health Costs

January 5, 2009

The NewsHour had an interesting bit tonight on people who have health insurance, but are delaying or forgoing health care due to the current economic situation and cost of co-pays and deductibles. The reporter told the story from Nashville, TN, featuring a local couple who were faced with deciding which of them would receive care.

There was a pie chart in the piece that indicated that something like 47% of Americans had delayed for forgone care in some way (such as skipping prescribed medicines or delaying regular check-ups) in the past year. I haven’t seen the survey methodology, but I wonder if the real number is possibly higher – there are likely some spouses or other family members out there who don’t even notice if routine/preventive care is skipped for some time, as they’re not the ones typically scheduling it.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. onesillyme permalink
    January 5, 2009 9:29 pm

    Hmmm… like the referral to a neurologist I’ve been putting off because I can’t afford the co-pay on the MRI I know would be ordered? Even though I’m a medical social worker, I haven’t figured out a way around this. Not to mention the knee replacement my husband needs and those pesky trips to the dentist (where insurance covers only 50%). If he ever gets a hearing on his SSDI application (wait time 2 years and counting) he will have Medicare. As soon as he does, he’s getting a new knee and whatever else he needs by then!

    Oops, frustrated rant over. Thanks for listening!

  2. MomTFH permalink
    January 5, 2009 11:51 pm

    I also wonder if these statistic figure in dental care. So happy to see it show up in another comment!

  3. pixie permalink
    January 6, 2009 12:52 am

    I’m glad to see someone(s) else mention the dental thing. It seems nearly everyone I know has put off dental work. I feel very blessed to have married into a family with a dentist uncle who treats us all at half price (or less). My husband has a GOOD job, but the benefits are, for lack of a better term, crap. And, with the economy, he can’t look for better! And, going on 10 years of unemployed motherhood, I can’t get a job that’d pay enough for medical insurance AND daycare. So, yeah, we skip a lot of routine care and only go for illnesses, basically. It bites!!!

  4. January 6, 2009 8:44 am

    Oh, I hear you on the dental care. Right now I’m personally overdue for a dental checkup, pelvic exam, thyroid check, new glasses, and a cholesterol test. I have medical and dental insurance, but those are copays I can avoid at the moment, while recovering from the holidays, the spouse losing his job in early November and promptly breaking an erupted wisdom tooth, and so on.

    For the record, I’m at an academic medical center, and my health insurance costs are going up this year, both in monthly costs and in the payments I’ll be required to make when I receive care.

  5. January 6, 2009 10:38 am

    Sounds like the T.A.L.K. survey the National Women’s Health Resource Center released in early December. They found nearly identical stats: 45% of women reported failing to seek medical care in the last year because of costs, and also some other interesting things.

    It’s amazing how much more publicity Kaiser got for doing the same thing! Guess it goes to show you what money can buy…

  6. Diane permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:39 am

    I, on the other hand, have health insurance but am constantly asulted by doctors who “know something really bad
    is going to happen to me”, so I get
    the tests at their prefered hospital that just increased its size by 400%,
    along with their billings– example:
    bloodtest for my thyroid used to be
    $150.00 with a $50.00 co-pay at Mt. Clemens General Hosipital, Mt. Clemens,
    Michigan. Now, at the same hospital
    now called Mt. Clemens Rgional Healthcare Facility that bloodtest costs $550.00 with a co-pay of $200.00.
    When I pointed this out to the doctor
    she said I HAD to use her hospital–it
    was her responsibility to refer me there. RIGHT. Her billing assistant said I could use their local lab for
    a $150.00 bloodtest and $50.00 co-pay.
    Sad but true. (OH– and the tests–both
    the $500 one and the follow up $150
    were TOTALLY NEGATIVE. No wonder people put off healthcare.

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