A troubling new survey released on March 26 found that Americans now fear medical bills more than they do serious illness. About 40 percent of Americans say they are skipping a recommended medical test or treatment, and 44 percent say they didn’t go to a doctor when they were sick or injured last year because of cost. Let that sink in for just a minute.
We spend approximately $3.3 trillion (yes, with a “T”) on healthcare in 2016 – almost 18 percent of our total Gross Domestic Product. And yet, this new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute found that three-quarters of Americans do not think we get good value for what our country is spending on healthcare.
The high cost of healthcare has become a public health crisis that is impacting all ages of Americans and is having a direct consequence on our health and financial well-being. We have increasing numbers of our citizens choosing between paying for medical bills or basic necessities like food, heating or housing. People aren’t just facing tough choices; they’re scared. The survey says more people fear their medical bills more than illness itself. One of the research authors said it best: “It’s shocking and unacceptable that medical bills strike more fear in the hearts of Americans than serious illness,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of West Health. She went on to say, “Bold action is required to lower the sky-high cost of healthcare. The very health and wealth of our nation and its people are at stake.”
The study found some additional troubling care issues: One-in-three survey respondents said they did not fill a needed prescription or took less than the prescribed dose to save money. Nearly half say they went without a routine dental cleaning or check-up, and 39 percent said they did not go to a dentist even though they needed treatment.
It’s been clear to me for many years that we need decisive action to help Americans avoid serious financial consequences due to the costs of healthcare. At a time when almost 40 percent of Americans have used up all or most of their savings, and over 30 percent have borrowed money or increased their credit card debt to cover medical costs because of healthcare expenses, is it any wonder why half of all Americans disapprove of the way their member of Congress is addressing this issue.
If I’m elected, I promise I’ll spend my time advancing policies to help all Americans access high-quality, affordable healthcare and supportive services. I support greater spending on Medicare and Social Security. Ultimately, I believe we need a system of universal coverage with the understanding that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
I hope you’ll take some time to review the research as I have, and please take a moment to share your thoughts and opinions either here or through my email. Here’s a link to the research summary.