A woman receives a shingles vaccine during a visit by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to publicize Medicare’s drug pricing program under the Inflation Reduction Act, at Grubb’s Pharmacy in Washington, United States, January 12, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]
The year 2022 has proved to be a very challenging financial year for many Americans: Nearly 4 in 10 said they had to put off getting health care into 2022 because of the cost, the highest number since Gallup began asking people to delay the cures more than 20 years ago.
The percentage who report that they or a family member have delayed getting health care because of costs has risen to 38% from 26% in 2021, the Gallup poll revealed.
In all, 27% said they had delayed treatment for a very or somewhat serious condition or disease, up from 18% in 2021.
Gallup began tracking Americans’ self-reports about delaying medical care due to costs since 2001. Between 2001 and 2021, Gallup polls showed that an average of 29 percent of American adults reported delaying care medical for financial reasons.
The latest reading, from Gallup’s annual health and healthcare survey conducted Nov. 9 to Dec. 2, was the highest, by five points, from the previous high of 33 percent recorded in 2014 and 2019. It has marked the sharpest year-over-year increase to date.
Low-income adults, young adults and women are more likely to say they or a family member have delayed treatment for a serious medical condition, the survey found.
Americans with annual household incomes of less than $40,000 were nearly twice as likely as those with incomes of $100,000 or more to delay treatment for a serious condition: 34% versus 18%. About 29% of those with incomes between $40,000 and $100,000 reported delaying treatment for a serious condition.
35% of adults aged 18-49 said they or someone in their family had put off treatment, while 25% of those aged 50-64 and 13% of those aged 50-64 and older at 65 they said the same.
When it comes to gender, 32% of women and 20% of men reported putting off medical care. The 12-point gap was well above the seven-point average since 2001.
Rising inflation was also a factor in many people saying they were left with less money for health care. A Gallup poll last year showed that 56% of Americans said they were in financial trouble due to rising prices.
Mona, 45, and her 14-year-old son live in a studio apartment in Manhattan. She lost her full-time job as a computer technician three years ago and has been freelancing ever since, earning about $40,000 a year instead of the $100,000 she used to make.
Neither she nor her son has health insurance, and she said she hasn’t seen a doctor since losing her job, though she said she hasn’t suffered from any serious health problems.
Mona, who asked not to use her last name, told China Daily that most of her money goes to rent and food, not health care.
“If my son has a serious health problem, I will take him to a doctor or a hospital emergency room,” she said. “There is no alternative until I can earn more.”
Craig, 55, and his wife, 49, live in Brooklyn. They are both unemployed after losing their jobs with a major tech company last year, along with their company’s paid for health insurance. Whatever savings they’ve been able to amass are almost gone, said Craig, who asked that his last name not be used. He has a heart condition that requires a $200 monthly prescription. “Nothing else for health care,” he said.
“We do everything we can to stay healthy. We can’t afford to see a doctor. We have no choice.”
Even as the number and percentage of uninsured Americans is falling to historic lows, a Commonwealth Fund survey showed that 43 percent of working-age adults were underinsured in 2022, and some of the insured are also missing out on care.
A New York Times reader identified as M. Lee of Kansas City said he makes $30,000 a year and his through-work insurance has a $3,000 deductible. “Making 30k a year makes it difficult to meet,” Lee said. “I just couldn’t find the $100-200 for my doctor’s office expenses.”
Another Times reader named Henry said he stopped going to the doctor years ago because of the cost. He said that “narrow network plans and high deductibles with tiered membership fees and constant claim denials don’t guarantee good medical care.”
“We’re starting to see some people putting off some care, especially preventive care, because of the cost,” Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and chair of family medicine for Northwell Health at New York, he told the Times.
Ai Heping of New York contributed to this story.