Doing Without Health Care

October 22nd, 2008 | Sources: Rockefeller Foundation, Time, Washington Post

The Great Economic Crisis of 2008 is taking a bite out of personal health spending, and we’re not talking about Botox and liposuction.

There’s the Texas woman for example, who showed up in an ER with back pain. Physician Doug Curran found cancer on her X-ray. “She’d had a lump in her breast for awhile, but things were tight and she said she couldn’t get it looked at,” Dr. Curran told the Washington Post. “We’re going to see more of that.”

Indeed. The number of Americans that skipped a doctor visit, didn’t fill a prescription and paid for health care using retirement savings all rose this year, according to a survey by Time Magazine and the Rockefeller Foundation. Ten percent of respondents said they had postponed their children’s check-ups during the year to save money.

These trends will worsen as the Crisis drags into 2009. “An economic downturn drives more people to be uninsured,” the New America Foundation’s Len Nichols told the Washington Post. “They lose their jobs, they lose their income and their insurance.”

“Many times in health care there’s a lag of three to six months before it really hits hard, added Donald Fisher, President of the American Medical Group Association who spoke with the Post about health seeking behavior during economic downturns. “If they have a problem, they get it fixed while they still have health insurance. Then we see a decline in elective procedures, and then we really see a drop-off.”


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