Gallup poll: 3 in 10 Americans skip medical care due to cost

Close up of a medical insurance form iStockphoto

A record number of Americans are skipping necessary medical care because of cost, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll of more than 1,000 U.S. adults found that 32 percent of Americans say they had to put off medical care for themselves or a family member over the past year because of finances. Gallup said that's the highest percentage since Gallup began tracking this measure 12 years ago, when 19 percent of Americans said they put off medical care.

"The cost of healthcare is a longstanding issue in the United States," wrote Elizabeth Mendes on Gallup's website. "The rising costs can put personal as well as public health at risk if Americans forgo treatment they need because they feel they cannot afford it."

For the poll, Gallup conducted interviews from a randomly selected sample of adults over 18 who were chosen through random dialing. The maximum margin of sampling error is +/- four percentage points.

Gallup also reports that 55 percent of uninsured adults had to put off care, as did 30 precent of those with private health insurance and 21 percent of survey responders who have Medicare or Medicaid.

Of those who put off medical care, 19 percent had a serious condition and 13 percent had a non-serious one, percentages that have doubled since a 2001 Gallup poll.

In September, a Consumer Reportssurvey of nearly 1,200 U.S. adults found 45 percent of those under 65 skipped getting a prescription because of costs, while 63 percent wouldn't see a doctor at all when they were sick to save money. Overall, 81 percent of those surveyed admitted skipping out on either a medical-related procedure, visit or prescription.

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