9% more patients skimping on healthcare

With economists claiming that the U.S. recession ended more than two years ago, one might expect that the trend of consumers cutting back on healthcare would begin to reverse. Despite recent reports from insurers and device manufacturers that business is picking up, however, an annual survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center suggests the problem has not only remained, but has gotten worse for patients.

In fact, the percentage of consumers who said they didn't fill prescriptions, took less medicine than a prescribed dose, or failed to undergo a medical test advised by their physician surged 9 percent from 2010 at 39 percent to 2011 at 48 percent, according to the survey.

Further, one in six American households and one in four with incomes less than $50,000 revealed they felt stress over how much they must spend on medical care. Thus, the near half of respondents who confessed to skimping on healthcarethe reported the following risky actions:

  • Putting off a doctor's visit (21 percent)
  • Delaying a medical procedure (17 percent)
  • Declining a medical test (14 percent)
  • Not filling a prescription (16 percent)
  • Taking an expired medication (13 percent)
  • Skipping a scheduled dose without asking a doctor or pharmacist (12 percent)
  • Splitting pills in half without consent of their doctor or pharmacist (8 percent)
  • Sharing a prescription with someone else (4 percent)

Thus, physicians are facing increasing pressure to help patients avoid the dangerous consequences of foregoing care.

"If a patient can't afford their medication, that's something his or her doctor needs to know," says Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. "Doctors should think of themselves as stewards of their patient's care," he adds, "and that includes considering their patient's ability to pay for treatment."

To learn more:
- read the article from Consumer Reports
- read the article from Bloomberg

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