Economy blamed for drop in routine care

The economy could be the reason many North Americans and Europeans--most notably Americans--are more reluctant to get routine medical care, according to Social Science Quarterly.

"The global economic crisis weakened national economies and household finances globally," Annamaria Lusardi, Ph.D., from George Washington University, said in a research announcement. "These economic conditions can have effects in many areas, including health."

Lusardi and her team examined how the economy affected 18- to 65-year-old individuals' routine medical care use and access post-2007 by examining the TNS Global Economic Crisis Survey in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, France and Germany.

Researchers found the economy reduced personal incomes, and in turn reduced the use of care, with more than 26 percent of the 2,148 American respondents reporting reductions in their use of routine medical care. However just 12 percent of the 1,097 French, 10.3 percent of the 1,107 German, 7.6 percent of 1,001 British and 5.6 percent of 1,132 Canadian respondents reported the same experience.

The reductions in care related to how much individuals must pay for care, researchers deduced. Because America doesn't have universal healthcare, the reduction is greater. They attributed the smaller European reductions to additional costs, such as prescriptions. 

A Gallup poll released in December found that 59 percent of the uninsured have delayed treatment, making them more than twice as likely to put it off as Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, or people with private insurance, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Twenty-two percent of Medicaid and Medicare patients reported that they had put off care, and 25 percent of adults with private insurance said the same.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the announcement