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‘I just tough it out’: 25% of Americans don’t get medical care because of high costs

People skip necessary doctor’s visits when they don’t have the money to pay for it.
People skip necessary doctor’s visits when they don’t have the money to pay for it. Creative Commons

Even though the U.S. is the richest country on earth, Americans pay the most for their health care of any high-income nation. And many people make a habit of avoiding needed care because it costs too much.

According to a survey by Bankrate Money Pulse, 25 percent of Americans have skipped medical attention they needed because of the cost.

“My deductible is so high, it’s not worth it to go to the doctor for most things,” 44-year-old Mandy Pullen of Waltham, Massachusetts told Bankrate. She has health insurance through her job as a food service manager and said for most medical situations, “I just tough it out.”

Of all age groups, millennials are the most likely not to go to the doctor when they need to because it’s too expensive. Thirty-one percent of people aged 18-36 skip out on medical care, followed by 25 percent of Gen X, 23 percent of Baby Boomers and just 8 percent of the Silent Generation.

Last month, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, casting doubt on the future of health care access in the U.S. The bill would leave 23 million currently insured people without coverage by 2026, according to analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Running on opposition to former President Barack Obama’s signature health care bill helped Republicans take control of both chambers of Congress and put President Donald Trump in the White House.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed said that Obamacare “better fits the needs of them and their family today,” while 25 percent said the Republican plan was better for them. Before that plan becomes law, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate where some lawmakers are hesitant to support a bill that will take away coverage from constituents and not contain the same protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Fifty-six percent of people are either very or somewhat worried that health care coverage in the future will not be affordable. Bankrate.com notes that that level of concern is nearly the same as August 2013, three years after Obamacare was passed but several months before the law took effect. Women were more likely to be concerned about being able to pay for insurance, with 42 percent saying they were very worried about it. Only 28 percent of men said the same.

Out of those surveyed, 36 percent got health coverage from a government program, while 36 percent got it through an employer. Twelve percent of people had bought private health insurance on their own and 13 percent had no health insurance.

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