Sour Economy Hits Health
There's more evidence out this week that the recession is having an impact on people's health. Two new surveys from major doctors' groups indicate that people are cutting back on things that will help keep them healthy and putting off seeing a doctor if they do get sick.
In March, the American Heart Association surveyed more than 1,000 people and 57 percent said the economy had affected their ability to take care of their health in some way. More than a third said they had made some kind of change in the last six months to save money, such as delaying preventive care appointments, not taking medications or skipping the dentist. About a quarter of those with gym memberships had canceled them in the previous six months. The future looks grim, too: 42 percent said they planned to make some kind of change in the next six months that may impact their health, such as buying fewer fruits and vegetables.
An American Academy of Family Physicians survey of more than 500 doctors, meanwhile, found that nearly 90 percent had patients who had expressed concerns about how they would pay their medical bills. More than half the doctors reported they had seen a spike in people canceling appointments, 60 percent said they had seen more health problem caused by patients delaying or forgoing care and nearly two thirds said they had seen an increase in uninsured patients. There was one bit of positive news: Two-thirds of the doctors said they had done something to try to help their patients, such as discounting their fees, providing free care or switching patients from brand-name to generic drugs.
May 21, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: General Health , Health Policy , Medical Technology , Nutrition and Fitness , Prevention , The Business of Health
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