RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—One in four Americans say they’ve had trouble paying for health care in the last year, with members of the Generation X and Baby boomer age groups most likely to postpone care due to cost, according to a national survey.
THE DETAILS: The data comes from a telephone survey of 3,007 households conducted from April 21 to May 3 by Thomas Reuters, as a part of the long-running PULSE Healthcare Survey. The numbers show that Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation X (born between 1965 and 1984) were up to 3.5 times more likely to put off medical care because of costs when compared to people born before 1946, the Silent Generation. High unemployment seems to be a leading cause of people’s troubles when it comes to health care. In April, 13.5 percent of those surveyed reported losing a job in the last three months, up more than 2 percentage points from a March survey. The study found that unemployment is the single strongest driver of payment difficulty among healthcare consumers.
WHAT IT MEANS: Although many analysts say the economy is showing signs of life, there are still millions of families living without health insurance. According to Families USA, a nonprofit healthcare consumer advocacy group, nearly 90 million people went without health coverage for all or part of 2006 and 2007. Most were a part of working families. Although President Barack Obama is working toward overhauling the healthcare system to include coverage for everyone, there is a lot of work to be done. And until changes are put in place, many are avoiding doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests, and medicine because they don’t have coverage, or their co-pays and deductibles are too pricey.
Here’s how to find help for affordable health care:
• Find an affordable health clinic. Even if you don’t have health insurance, you can still get checkups to help you stay healthy, get certain treatments if you’re sick, stay current with immunizations, obtain pregnancy care, or get other services through a federally funded health facility near you. You pay what you can afford based on your income.
• Find free screenings. Find the American Cancer Society branch office in your area and inquire about free cancer screening programs in your neighborhood or county.
• Get deals from the drug companies. Congress and the drug industry reached a deal over the weekend in which pharmaceutical companies will provide $80 billion in prescription discounts through the Medicare program for seniors. That program won’t help younger age groups, and won’t kick in for a few months, but many pharma companies already offer some assistance. For details on how to get help from drug makers and other sources, see our recent story on how to find affordable health care.