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A staggering 46 million people — nearly one-fifth of all Americans — cannot afford necessary healthcare services, according to a new survey.
Conducted by West Health and Gallup, the survey polled 3,753 U.S. adults from Feb. 15-21.
The survey participants were asked: If you needed access to quality healthcare today, would you be able to afford it?
About 18% said that they would not. That figure jumped to 29% for Black Americans and 21% for Hispanic adults. Only 16% of white adults also answered in the negative.
Unaffordability of care does not only vary by race, but also by age group. Non-white adults, between 18 and 49, were more likely to say that they couldn’t pay for needed care (27%), as compared with non-white adults, 65 and above (16%). Similarly, 20% of white adults, aged 18 to 49, said they found care unaffordable versus 8% of white adults 65 years and older.
The past year has been especially difficult for people trying to afford care, according to the report. Approximately 18% of respondents said that someone in their household skipped care they needed for cost reasons in the prior 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, low-income households — those earning less than $24,000 per year — were more likely to report forgoing care in the previous 12 months (35%), than high-income households (7%), those earning at least $180,000.
Further, many Americans report cutting back on other expenses to be able to afford care. Around 12% of respondents said they spend less on food and 11% forgo over-the-counter drugs to pay for healthcare or medicine. Among low-income households, 21% said they have had to reduce spending on utilities due to the cost of care.
More than a third (35%) of adults also reported reducing spending on recreational or leisure activities in the past year in order to afford care.
Faced with care costs that are often crippling, Americans overwhelmingly support government intervention, the report shows.
More than 80% of Americans, including over 70% of Republicans, are in favor of capping out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and general healthcare services for Medicare beneficiaries.
Other popular proposals are lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60, which 65% of respondents support; making Medicare available to everyone (60%); and expanding and strengthening the Affordable Care Act (59%).
This indicates a “public that continues to remain open to government action designed to provide relief from healthcare expenses,” the report states.
Photo: Meriel Jane Waissman, Getty Images
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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