Postponing Doctor Visits

November 11th, 2009 | Sources: HealthDay

The Great Economic Crisis may not make front-page news with the regularity it did a year ago, but it continues to have a pernicious effect on the health of Americans, according to a survey carried out by the American Optometric Association.

outofpocketThe nationally representative survey of 1,000 adults showed that recession-related financial problems have prompted 36% of US citizens to cut back on doctor visits.

Sixty-three percent of the survey respondents have foregone visits to the dentist, whereas 59% and 52% have done the same for primary care physicians and eye doctors, respectively. Only 8% claimed they hadn’t changed their routine health-maintenance schedules at all.

The poor economy has hit Hispanics disproportionately, according to the survey. Nearly half (49 percent) of them said they’ve cut back on doctor visits, whereas 36% of blacks and 33% of whites had done the same.

Nearly 2/3 of Hispanics had bagged one or more dental visits, and 53% said they had been to see an eye doctor less often.

Women (38%) were more likely than men (32%) to forego a visit.

In rural areas, nearly 2/3 of respondents said they had reduced eye doctor visits, whereas only half of urban and suburban respondents had done so.

The survey findings “are very worrisome,” said David Cockrell, an optometrist and a trustee with the Association. “We know that many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms, so early diagnosis and treatment are critical. This is true beyond just eye care. Health issues of any kind are not things that Americans should ignore.”

“The longer patients go between doctor visits, the greater the opportunity for additional health problems that ultimately can be much more expensive than routine checkups and early-stage treatment,” he added.


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