Americans are skipping treatment to reduce health care costs


A healthcare worker takes a nasal sample for a COVID-19 test, at a test site set up at a school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

(NewsNation) — While inflation continues to ravage various markets across America, a new poll conducted by West Health and Gallup shows the ripple effect permeating another industry: health care.

After surveying 3,001 adults — a group representative of approximately 98 million Americans overall — about their consumer habits amid inflation, results show that nearly four in 10 Americans have cut back on household and everyday spending to compensate for rising health care prices over the last six months.

The survey also showed that one in four Americans reported delaying or avoiding medical care or purchasing prescription drugs.

“People have been making tradeoffs to pay for health care for years,” Timothy A. Lash, president of West Health, said in a statement. “Inflation has only made things worse as people are also now struggling with the high price of gas, food and electricity.”

Conducted between June 2 and 16, 2022 — in the same month consumer inflation reached a 40-year high of 9.1 percent annually — the survey also gave an interesting breakdown of the respondents by earnings.

While those making less than $48,000 per year were more likely to adjust their budgets, polling also showed that 19 percent of households earning $180,000 or more annually made cuts as well.

Furthermore, women age 50 and younger — and overall — were more likely than men to make sacrifices on medical care and medicine.

Speaking on President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, Lash said, “Congress has the power right now to reduce health care prices, particularly for prescription drugs. Legislation is on the table,” as opposed to what could be done for the gas, food and electricity categories that have also been hit by inflation.

West Health also asked respondents about their confidence in receiving affordable care going forward.

Almost 40 percent reported concern about paying for health care in the next six months, even as gas prices polled much higher — by a 43% to 3% margin — in terms of which they most feared rising.

“Inflation is hollowing out consumer spending habits across an array of areas. What is found just under the surface is that after gas and groceries, the role of inflation in reducing the pursuit of needed care is large and significant,” said Dan Witters, a senior researcher at Gallup, in a news release. 

“The rising cost of care itself, which is originating from an already elevated level, is having an outsized impact on lessening other forms of spending, compounding the problem,” Witters continued.

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