Americans increasingly self-treat to avoid high costs

Dec 15, 2014 | Healthcare Industry News

One of the main aims of the Affordable Care Act was to enable more Americans to seek medical treatment. Delaying this can lead to symptoms compounding, making the final cost of treating the affliction much higher than if a person had sought care earlier. However, a recent Gallup survey found that despite an increase in the number of Americans with coverage,  the number of insured Americans that chose not to go to a health care professional for a "routine visit or a need" because of cost hit an all-time high of 34 percent.

"But, despite a drop in the uninsured rate, a slightly higher percentage of Americans than in previous years report having put off medical treatment, suggesting that the Affordable Care Act has not immediately affected this measure," Gallup wrote in the report. 

However, the report found that in some key demographics, there is improvement. The percentage of middle-to-lower income Americans who said they skipped getting health care because of cost dropped, according to the report. But among households making $30,000-$75,000 a year, 38 percent said cost forced them to put off seeking treatment. Gallup noted that this number is up from 33 percent in 2013.

As many Americans forgo care because of cost concerns, some care facilities could begin to experience challenges with accounts receivable management. These challenges could be compounded when patients finally seek care, and are underprepared for the final cost of their treatment. In these cases, the decision to outsource receivables management can lead to a reduction in the dollars written off to bad debt, as well as a more manageable claims load for in-house staff.