One third of Americans delay health care because of cost

Feb 10, 2015 | Health Insurance Billing

As Americans weigh their health care options, sometimes delaying treatment until they're in a better position to absorb costs makes short-term sense. However, in the long term, delaying treatment can compound existing medical issues and lead to higher costs down the road. According the a new Gallup poll, 33 percent of Americans delayed medical care because they were unprepared to shoulder the cost, a trend that could have long-term consequences for healthcare administrators. 

Of that 33 percent, 49 percent described their condition as "somewhat serious," while 17 percent reported they put off treatment for a "very serious" medical situation. Over the years, that number has grown steadily, up 3 percent from 2013 and 1 percent higher than the previous record year, 2012. 

"Historical survey results show that serious conditions are usually put off more often than non-serious conditions," reports Fox Business. "The gap between those delaying treatments for the most serious and non-serious conditions typically is around 5-10%. (It was 11% in 2014). For some, cost appears to trump health concerns."

Conditions with the likelihood of advancing over time make this behavior particularly precarious. On one hand, patients could delay life-extending or even life-saving procedures until it's too late, and on the other, facing treatment down the road could mean even more aggressive and costly treatments to make up for time lost. Either way, patients who are unable to afford the cost of medical care at present may face consequences in the future, including accruing massive debt. 

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