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A growing number of people are putting off medical care because of the cost, according to a new survey from the Federal Reserve.
Some 28% of people say they skipped some form of health care last year because they couldn’t afford it, which is up 4% from the year before.
Health care costs have actually been rising more slowly than other costs in the last couple of years.
But “people’s decisions about consuming health care aren’t determined only by health care prices,” pointed out Matthew Fiedler at the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.
They’re also determined by how much money a person makes, whether they’re insured and what their other expenses are, he said. “When people’s incomes are lower or they feel other pressure on their family budgets, they may cut back in a lot of places, including health care.”
And a lot of people’s budgets have been strained recently, said Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University.
“Because of inflation, I think people have to make tough choices,” she said. “They have to decide, am I going to pay the rent? Am I going to buy food? Or am I going to get medical care that I could have now or later?”
Low-income people, people who are sicker and people without insurance are most likely to delay or forgo certain kinds of care, according to Cynthia Cox at the health policy nonprofit KFF.
“They decide, is this something that I absolutely need to get or not?” she said. “So that’s why often the first thing you see people put off is dental care or vision care.”
The Fed’s survey found that people are also likely to skip follow-up visits with their doctors, mental health care and prescriptions.
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