U.S. cuts back on routine medical care

Gregory Warner Aug 17, 2010


Steve Chiotakis: Americans cut back on routine medical care because of the recession. But Europeans did. too. But by far less. That’s according to a new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

From the Marketplace Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia Gregory Warner has more.

Gregory Warner: The study found that one in four Americans cut back on doctor’s visits for non-emergency care last year. And the harder your life was hit by the recession, the more likely you were to cut back.

Canadians and Europeans also cut back on doctors visits but by much less. Basically, the more your country makes you pay out of pocket, the less likely you are to spend that money on health care. JB Silvers teaches health care finance at Case Western Reserve University.

JB SILVERS: If you have out of pocket costs and you’re in an uncertain time, you’re more careful with how you spend your money!

Bob Atlas is with the consulting firm Avalere Health in Washington. He says it’s harder to make an appointment with a primary care doctor.

BOB ATLAS: If people reach out to the doctor and you’re told we can see you in 10 days, two weeks, you may decide it’s not worth it or you may take the appointment and discover you get better and then not go.

Or you might get worse and end up in the emergency room, where health costs are higher.

In Philadelphia, I’m Gregory Warner for Marketplace

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.