Times are tough, and over the last couple of years Americans have decided to forego health care expenses in lieu of basic expenses and the costs to economically survive.

It can be expensive to see a family doctor or have lab work done, and it can be even more costly to have medical procedures performed if you have limited insurance coverage. With all the advances in medical care, the cost to be well has certainly increased over the past ten years. However, the cost to stay well is even greater when considering the absence of preventive care.

MCOL reports that 75% of US consumers say the economic slowdown has impacted their health care spending. According to findings from a new survey published by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, when consumers were asked about the impact of the economy and rising health care costs:

  • In the United States, three in four (75%) consumers say the recent economic slowdown has impacted their health care spending.
  • Forty-one percent are more cautious about spending, 20% have cut back on spending, and 13% say they have reduced their spending considerably.
  • Sixty-three percent say their monthly health care spending limits their household's ability to purchase other essentials, such as housing, groceries, fuel, and education.
  • In an effort to save money, 36% of prescription medication users say they asked their doctor to prescribe a generic drug instead of a brand name drug.
  • One in four (25%) U.S. consumers skipped seeing a doctor when sick or injured.

Some analysts have suggested that the lower-than-expected utilization is a more fundamental change rather than a fleeting one. Due to structural changes in healthcare plans over the years, such as higher co-pays and other fees, consumers have steadily borne more of the healthcare costs. The extended downturn, and its associated job losses, makes this situation more unusual. Typically, when people come back to work, they then use health care services. Elective services are usually postponed when individuals are out of work.

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