An Increasing Number of People in the U.S. are unable to Afford Doctors, Despite Having Health Insurance

As per a U.S. study, quite an increasing number of Americans are unable to see doctors due to steeping rise in the healthcare cost, despite having health insurance. The proportion of uninsured adults has reduced to 14.8% from 16.9%, in the last two decades. Despite the reduction in the uninsured rate, there was a rise in the proportion of adults, who were unable to afford doctor visits during this period. Out-of-pocket costs not only made doctors expensive for uninsured but even the insured also avoided seeing physicians despite having chronic medical conditions that require regular checkups.

According to lead study author, Dr. Laura Hawks of the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School in Boston, “The quality of private health insurance is getting worse, and the cost of healthcare is rising significantly,” and  he also said through email “We know that private health insurance plans increasing rely on high premiums, high-deductible health plans . . . high co-pays and other forms of cost-sharing”. These are proving financial barriers for the people to afford healthcare in the U.S. People suffering from chronic health issues like heart disease, high cholesterol, and alcohol use disorders are unable to see a doctor due to increasing cost.

The study was carried out by the researchers by examining survey data collected from  1998 to 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they wanted to know how access to healthcare changed after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. The study proved that though adults proportion, who were unable to see a doctor increased slowly from 1998 to 2009 compared to the rapid increase in the people’s inability prior to the ACA implementation. However, even after coming of ACA, the adult’s proportion, who were able to afford a doctor never returned to 1998 levels. The study also revealed that healthcare affordability worsened in nearly all income groups and across all racial groups.

It is quite common that uninsured adults avoid seeing a doctor even if they have chronic conditions because they struggle to pay for checkups. The study recommended that such speak to their doctor and pharmacist to find ways to save costs like reduced fees for office visits or switching to generic medications. Community health centers or hospital clinics should come up with programs to provide care for free or reduced fees for uninsured adults or for people who have high levels of medical debt. Reducing the health insurance cost will also prove beneficial for Americans.

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