Conventional wisdom is that the health care sector is recession-proof. That isn’t the case right now.
The number of prescriptions filled has fallen more than 2% in the last year for example, while overall physician office visits declined 1.2% and Ob-Gyn visits declined 6% during the same period. Nearly 22% of individuals responding to a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners indicated that deteriorating family finances have caused them to use fewer health services in the last year.
Among uninsured Americans, drop-offs in health services utilization s are particularly dramatic. Quest Diagnostics, Inc. reports that there has been an 8% decline in lab testing for such people.
But those with health insurance are cutting back as well, probably because out-of-pocket expenses have grown dramatically in recent years. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, average annual family plan deductibles are nearly $760 for HMOs and $3,600 for high-deductible plans. These figures are twice as high as they were 7 years ago.
Then there’s the cost of gasoline. For some, an 80 mile round trip to get blood sugars checked is simply out of the question even if the visit is covered.