More Uninsured Americans Not Filling Prescriptions, Delaying Doctor's Visits, Skipping Medical Procedures

While the U.S. economy is arguably inching toward improvement, costs for health insurance continue to climb. Combined with still-high unemployment and a growing number of employers requiring employees to pay a larger share of their insurance premiums, and there are a lot of uninsured and under-insured Americans out there. And according to the Consumer Reports annual prescription drug poll, a growing number of these people are going without needed care or medication.

Talking to Americans under the age of 65 without an insurance plan that covers prescription drugs, Consumer Reports found the following:

* 62% declined a medical test because of cost (an increase of 29% from 2011)
* 45% skipped filling a prescription because of cost (an increase of 19%)
* 63% put off a doctor’s visit to save money (an increase of 16%)
* 51% skipped a medical procedure due to cost (an increase of 12%)

81% of these people said they had done at least one of the above during the last year.

This news comes at a time when nearly half of adult Americans (46%) are taking some sort of prescription medication, with the average being 4.1 medications. Lest you think that the large, aging Baby Boomer population is skewing this data, the CR survey found that 25% of Americans ages 18 to 39, take at least two prescription medicines.

“Americans are in serious financial distress and now, more than ever, they need to be thinking about their health. With everything we know about the relationship between stress and health, it is very worrisome to think that people aren’t getting the care they need,” said John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

In addition to foregoing medical care, the CR survey found that many consumers are not confiding in the professionals who could actually help them cut their health care costs.

68% of respondents said they are uncomfortable discussing personal financial difficulties with their pharmacist, while 47% voiced a similar reluctance in discussing money problems with their physician.

“This is a very serious red flag,” says Santa. “Patients need to speak up, but doctors have a role too. An important part of a physician’s professional obligations includes assistance navigating stressful financial times—especially when part of the stress is related to the health care a physician orders or provides. For most physicians, their goal is to care for the whole patient not just the portion carrying the wallet.”

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  1. Coffee says:

    To paraphrase commenter Quirk:

    America – we’ve got the best medical care system in the world (that nobody can afford).

    • AzCatz07 says:

      So true. I have a private policy since my employer only offered a high-deductible, HSA plan that would’ve cost me more per month. Anyway, my family doctor recently referred me to do a sleep study because I was having issues with insomnia. Turns out, the sleep study would cost me over $3,000 which would have to be paid out of pocket (although it does count toward my annual deductible).

      When I told my family doctor about how much that would cost me out of pocket, he instead referred me to an ENT, for which I only had to pay the copay for a specialist visit. My doctor was shocked at the cost of the sleep study and that it wouldn’t be one of those coverages that would just cost me a copay.

      I don’t blame my doctor for not knowing this, although I’m glad I had the good sense to call my insurer before I scheduled the sleep study instead of just assuming it was covered. It’d be nice to just get the treatment I need without worrying about whether or not my plan covers it.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        I was uninsured for a long time, and it was an education in how many things doctors prescribe or refer you for while having no idea what they cost, because the overwhelming majority of their patients are insured and never see the cost.

        • daemonaquila says:

          Here’s a horrible corollary to that: most doctors either don’t know or don’t care about the charitable arms of many drug companies through which their poor patients could get some of the most expensive, life-saving medications. I’ve had homeless clients begging for money for insulin, when some minimal paperwork from their doc could get them insulin plus supplies (needles, syringes, even test strips), free.

  2. Oh_No84 says:

    This is understandable.
    I had pneumonia around easter.
    Every time I went to the doctor they wanted a $125 copay.
    1st visit = wait for 3 hrs, 5 minutes with nurse for vitals, 5 min with doctor to diagnose and prescribe = $125
    2nd visit = (1 week later w/ appointment) wait 3 hrs, 2 minutes with doctor who says everything is going well. He did nothing = $125. (back with my old doctor before I moved they never charged for a checkup like this)
    3rd visit = (1 week later) I said screw it, I am not going to go back to the doctor, wait 3 hrs for 2 minutes and then pay another $125. I felt he was going to keep doing this every week to get more money.

    Doctors charge full price for a quick 2 min followup. I understand why people skip doctors appointments.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Go to the county hospital and tell them you have no insurance. It will be free.

      • eezy-peezy says:

        ah yes, the Republican health care plan.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        Which ends up being an unseen tax on others who are insured as this exact scenario is one of which that leads to inflated insurance costs. When all the Repubs were complaining about the tax the ACA was putting on the people, they neglected to mention one that was currently affecting a larger pool of the population.

      • momoftwokids says:

        Yes free to them, not to the rest of us that will have to pay more in order to keep the hospital from going bankrupt.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          LOL. If you can pay, you must be one of the “rich”. You should be paying more more more! And you shouldn’t have a say in that. PAY MORE DAMMIT! People who won’t pay are depending on you!

          • cantiloon says:

            I’m happy with us all paying the some. Gotta love the delusional middle class who think the rich should pay a smaller percentage. As if they’ll ever be in the 1% without winning the lotto.

            • cantiloon says:

              *same

            • MutantMonkey says:

              I’m pretty sure the middle class feels, at the very least, that the rich should pay the same amount or a larger %, certainly not a smaller percentage as it appears that is already the case.

              However the lower class should not generally bear the same percentage burden as the impact it has at those low incomes is far more detrimental than if the middle class and up are paying a similar percentage.

            • TheMansfieldMauler says:

              Yeah, because the rich should pay more, more and more still because they can afford it. Excuse me, comrade, I have to be at my CPUSA meeting in 26 minutes.

              • cantiloon says:

                Yup, I’m a commie because I think someone who makes 10x what I make should pay the same % in taxes. That was pretty much Marx’s entire gripe from what I understand.

              • ARP3 says:

                Reagan was a commie? The tax rate during his time was 39.6%, the same rate that Obama wants to apply. Why doesn’t Fox talk about how Reagan was a commie?

                Nixon actually capped wages, Eisenhower-Ford rates were 70%.

                So many commies….

                By the way, at what rate does a country immediately become communist? There doesn’t seem to be a transition. Also, what other 1st world country has very low tax rates?

                • poco says:

                  You can keep talking, but he can’t hear you. Facts and data don’t penetrate the bubble. Saint Reagan’s actual policies aren’t up for debate, nor is any other historical record.

            • Mr. Bill says:

              I won seven bucks in the lotto last month does that make me a one percenter.

            • NewsMuncher says:

              By “middle class” you mean those making $200,000-$250,000+, right? (as a family unit—not individually, just to clarify)

        • Invader Zim says:

          Or they can use their expensive to them health care plan that they pay out the nose to buy every month, provided they reach the 3000 deductible. Which most people dont reach and still have to pay for the entire visit and prescription out of pocket…But lets hate on the victims for awhile.

          • Pre-Existing Condition says:

            That sounds like my previous health plan.

            $1,200/month to cover my family with a $5,000 deductible. There’s nothing quite like paying $14,000/year in premiums and still have to pay out-of-pocket for everything, anyways.

            We now have a $10,000 deductible but the premiums still sting, just less so ($400/month).

            • Invader Zim says:

              Seems like there should be laws stopping insurance companies from creating plans like these. My last three places of employment offered similar plans. These are like scam plans. Offered up by cigna, bluecross (anthem) and the like. They arent worthy of capital letters, sorry. There were no alternative real plans that you could pick from. It was like, pay now and pay nearly everything later too, or get none and just pay later and put the difference in a saving account.

              • Pre-Existing Condition says:

                As awful as it is, that is the going rate for health insurance in this country. This year, the average cost of a family plan broke $20,000/year for the first time — Ouch!

          • MutantMonkey says:

            That is how the Repubs work. It’s the victim’s fault for becoming a victim. Can’t afford healthcare, your fault. Eat lead laden food, your fault. Get sick because of pollution, your fault. Get raped, your fault.

            • Anubis says:

              How’s Obamacare treating you? It was passed over 2 years ago, and we were promised that everything would be better now. Seems to me that Dems aren’t any better repubs. And don’t tell me the repubs had anything to do with the shortcomings of it. Obama had a majority of the House and a super-majority in the Senate, he could’ve done ANYTHING. This is what we got. Are you better off?

      • cantiloon says:

        Which is why I support the mandate. Pay to play or get fined/taxed. Sure there will always be deadbeats, but the hope is that there will be less deadbeats…or at the very least they suffer more for being deadbeats.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          Good luck “taxing” people who don’t pay taxes. Good luck “fining” people who have no money.

          Oh…right…never mind. They’re owed free everything.

        • Pre-Existing Condition says:

          The odd thing about the insurance mandate is that the mandate penalty is lower than the tax penalty for purchasing insurance outside of a group plan. The only people who aren’t penalized are those who get insurance through work, where premiums are entirely tax-free.

          It’s a hell of a system we have in the USA.

        • Pre-Existing Condition says:

          You know you live in a cruel country when not being able to afford $10,000 – $20,000/year in premiums to cover your family constitutes being a “deadbeat”.

          The mandate tax penalty is nothing compared to health insurance premiums, especially non-group premiums paid with after-tax income.

          • cantiloon says:

            As messed up as the current system is, if you get healthcare and never pay a dime for it, you’re a deadbeat in my eyes.

            • Pre-Existing Condition says:

              I hate the current system — I’ve paid well over $100,000 in premiums and deductibles in the past decade — but still have trouble hating or insulting someone who can’t pay.

              Between 2010 & 2011, we paid over $30,000 in premiums and deductible. It sucks.

        • Invader Zim says:

          Go then, support that concept… by the way are you going to make sure the plans they are being forced to buy arent scams. Would you enjoying paying 600 month and then still having a 3000 yearly deductible and having to pay all prescriptions and Dr visits until it is met each year. IT never is met by me. Does that sound like a wonderful plan to you? Cause its offered by Anthem and Cigna and other major insurers who have figured out to get you to pay out the arse and pay out nothing themselves.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        That’s not even true… that doesn’t stop them from billing you and sending you to collections if you don’t pay.

      • jaymelo says:

        I have to respond to this one. This is a typical comment from a person who has never been poor. I live near Fresno California. We are one of them poorest places in the US. There are no County Hospitals here. There is no free health care anywhere. Hospital ER’s are bound by law to provide care for those with no insurance, but it is not free. Hospitals send unpaid bills to collections. They will garnish your wages or sue you for unpaid bills. I used to work for a local hospital, I know. The bosses made us tell patients that they had to pay before they could see a Dr. [which is a lie] so I quit. CA has Medical [Medicaid] for the poor, but millions of adults do not qualify.

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        It’s free as in they’ll destroy your credit, sue you, garnish your wages, and put a lien on your house.

        If you’re indigent, then yes, you’ll probably get “free” care (there’s no getting blood from a stone) but if you have any assets, at best your financial life will be destroyed for the next 7 years.

      • HomerSimpson says:

        Um, you fools do understand that the hospital does bill the patient, right?

        • cantiloon says:

          You understand that many people don’t pay it, right?

          • daemonaquila says:

            You understand that most of those non-payers have only a tiny amount of income, and they’ll get sued and have that tiny income and any tax refunds garnished, right? So tired of hearing about how poor, poor hospitals keep taking it in the bum.

    • bsh0544 says:

      Even worse are the doctors who have you come in to tell you the results of some lab work you had done. 60 second conversation that could have happened over the phone and been done, instead I’m out a specialist copay, gas to and from the office, and at least an hour of my life. Thanks, not coming back to you ever.

    • terrillja says:

      “Full price” is not an accurate argument. There are different billing codes based on the length and depth of the appointment, as well as what type of doctor you are seeing. Doctors who routinely charge the higher codes can get audited and insurance companies (and states) will catch on. Computers make this very easy. If you want to look it up, google CPT codes. 99242 is different from 99243, 99244, etc.

      Source: I working with billing codes all day.

  3. dragonfire81 says:

    ““Americans are in serious financial distress and now, more than ever, they need to be thinking about their health. With everything we know about the relationship between stress and health, it is very worrisome to think that people aren’t getting the care they need,” said John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.”

    But, but I thought Obamacare was EVIL and needed to be destroyed?

    • frank64 says:

      If you read what Ohno84 wrote there is more to the issue than Obamacare or not. This happens because under the insurance system most don’t directly pay. This also allowed the prescriptions and medical tests to be real expensive too. He only resisted because he paid out of pocket.

  4. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    My husband and I are uninsured, even though we both work. We actively do all 4 of those things on a fairly regular basis. When we are paying for everything we have to pick and choose which things are worth paying for now, which ones are worth putting off for a while, and which ones are ok to skip all together.

    We’re both 27, by the way.

    We’re making do with what we have until some coverage comes along that we can actually afford. It hasn’t happened yet.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      You should look for a major medical or HDHP policy (while they still exist).

      We were in a similar situation and eventually just could not afford to shell out $1,200/month in premiums. We switched to a bare-bone $10,000 deductible (no Rx, no maternity, no dental/vision) policy for about $400/month. It’s not great but it will protect against bankruptcy if one of us is hospitalized and gets us contract rates for services.

    • Mambru says:

      I’m thinking going the unisured way just like you. I pay my own and my wife’s insurance bc my ompany offers crap but I what I have is ridiculos I have to pay for everything I just get some kinda of sicount for being insured. I rather saved thos 200 a month and then pay out of pocket if I get sick

  5. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    “This is a very serious red flag,” says Santa.

    And we better pay attention if we want any presents this year.

  6. dragonfire81 says:

    And therein lies the big problem with our healthcare system: It’s TOO FREAKING EXPENSIVE!

    The really stupid thing is that it doesn’t HAVE TO BE.

    What happens when you go to an ER? They treat you, then give you a bill at the end that looks something like this:

    X-ray: $1000
    Doctor consultation: $600
    Medication: $200
    X-ray tech fee: $500

    You don’t get to challenge it, you aren’t told about these costs ahead of time. They just charge what they want and bill you after the fact. NO OTHER industry is able to do this.

    That’s why the costs get bloated. They can easily bill $150 for a couple of aspirin that can be had for less than $20 at the Walgreen’s around the corner.

    They can bill $500 hundred dollars even though the doctor was only in the room for three minutes.

    They can do it because no one challenges them on it and there is practically NO cost transparency whatsoever. I’d love to see some statistics comparing the charged cost for care against the ACTUAL cost of care. I suspect the difference would be staggering.

    • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

      TheMansfieldMauler
      September 13, 2012 1:25 PM

      Go to the county hospital and tell them you have no insurance. It will be free.
      ~~~~~~

      Well, not free. The costs for your ‘free’ healthcare are just passed along to those who can actually pay, or their insurance companies.

    • Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

      Try going into the hospital for pneumonia, and getting billed $350 for a pap-smear. When you’re a man!

      Took 3 months of fighting them to get it removed from my bill.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        My mom got a bill and a nasty letter saying that her insurance does NOT cover drug rehab and the bill would be her responsibility to pay.

        She had gone to the doctor for a regular eye exam…………

        It took her many angry phone calls to straighten out THAT mess.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Well they often have the advantage of a “captive” customer. I went to the ER due to a high fever. The doctor wanted to give me an IV for fluids. Do you ask for a price on that and then decline treatment? Why did you go in the first place?

      That visit, my first as an adult, caused by advice from a PA (still cost me the same as a doctor visit) that left the ER doc and the next doctor for follow up surprised anyone would advise that, cost me about $450 out of pocket with what the billing lady described as good insurance.

    • Smiling says:

      They bill so much for meds to pay for nursing and pharmacy costs. Hospitals cannot bill nursing and pharmacy costs to insurance so they have to fold it in to the price of the drugs and other things.

  7. eezy-peezy says:

    next time you get a scrip, ask the doctor about how much it costs. They have NO IDEA. Then they wonder why you didn’t take your pills.

    In an ideal situation–
    Doc – I am prescribing these pills for you, they will be about $60 a month. Is that going to be a problem for you?

    Then you can either say no, or if you say yes, the doc can work with you to find a better solution.

    • bsh0544 says:

      My doc has been pretty good about medication costs with me. He doesn’t know the final cost (because he’s not in charge of setting it) but he knows which are generics and that’s about all I think is reasonable to expect of him.

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        Nowadays, I think it’s pretty common for doctors to keep the $4 Rx list around as a baseline for costs.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Even better, ask them how much the cost of a physical is before you make the appointment. Again, most don’t have a clue. Neither do the consumers (not, we are not the customers, the insurance is the customer in most cases). Its sad when both parties aren’t sure the cost of something. How are we going to control costs if neither party knows?

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        Yeah, it’s like signing an indefinite time and materials contract with no estimate and no breakdown of costs whatsoever.

  8. deathbecomesme says:

    I had blood in my stool for a year while I was right outa HS. Dr ref me to a specialist after a few visits. I never went cuz I couldnt afford it without insurance. They offered to assist with the bill but even with their assistance I couldnt afford the procedure

  9. jeepguy57 says:

    I was behind a woman at the pharmacy recently who called her husband and they agreed not to pick up a $60 scrip. She hung up, put the iPhone back into her Coach purse and left.

    There is the inability to afford healthcare and the unwillingness to pay for it.

    • cantiloon says:

      I see what you’re saying, but phones are a necessity. What should she do, sell the iPhone for $200, buy a non-smart phone for $40 bucks and then have enough left over to get two month’s supply of the prescription (assuming it was a monthly supply)?

      • jeepguy57 says:

        I think saying a phone (cell) is a necessity is debatable… But we can at least agree that an IPhone with a data plan is NOT a necessity nor is a $200 purse.

        Point is a lot of people don’t want to many ANY sacrifices for their health. Even those that have some means, which I will assume this woman did.

        • jeepguy57 says:

          *make* any sacrifices…

        • bsh0544 says:

          I take your point, but realistically you could get a used iPhone (a few generations old) for next to nothing and drop it on a prepaid plan and wind up paying about the same as you would with a dumbphone on a postpaid plan for one of the 4 major carriers. The purse could have easily been a good knockoff, or a gift, or also bought used.

          Don’t be too quick to judge.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          ASS-ume.

          Could have bought the Coach purse used.

          Could have got the iPhone before they were downsized / laid off / etc. And could have cut other non-essentials in order to keep the phone.

          If people’s circumstances change, they’re just supposed to throw all their stuff away? Or do we have to whip out a budget sheet to justify our things to perfect strangers who can’t mind their own business?

          • TuxthePenguin says:

            Yes, maybe she had just been laid off and had gotten the iPhone for free and had conned AT&T into giving her the plan for free. And maybe Santa gave her the Coach purse too.

            Yes, that could happen. But I bet if you were to see a similar situation 100 times, probably 90 of them would be exactly what the commenter means. I bet even that is high.

            But I think the point both are missing is that both the iPhone and the purse can realistically be priced out BEFORE you purchase them. Or go the counter. Most people don’t have a clue what an Rx costs before they are Rx’ed it. She compared how she felt (or the condition) and the cost and decided it wasn’t worth the cost.

            To me, that’s a good thing in many cases. Let people make their own decisions. Somehow people tend to get it right. Me, I’ll take prescriptions if proscribed, but I also ask how much tests/exams before I make an appointment and the cost of an Rx before I leave the Dr. If you have a HDHP with an HSA, you do that a lot more. I know my employees do. My secretary couldn’t believe her doc charged $175 alone for a sports physical without bloodwork. For 30 minutes of work.

            That’s how we fix healthcare and the insurance racket.

            • Pre-Existing Condition says:

              That’s essentially my take on it too. It’s good to understand costs and be an informed consumer.

              I think it’s entirely believable that someone got an Rx from her doctor and then went to CVS to pick it up and immediately got sticker shock over the price. At that point, saying “no, thank you” and either a) calling her insurer to see why it was rejected; or b) calling her doctor to see if there are any equivalent drugs on the “$4-list” would be reasonable responses.

              I have a $10,000 HDHP and asking questions about cost is second nature. In 2012, a good family doctor should be able to work with patients to find affordable prescriptions.

          • jeepguy57 says:

            You are right – I am sure this was a used iPhone and a used Coach purse. Because a used Coach purse holds food stamps better.

            Regardless, my point is that people have no problem leasing a car for $350/month, paying $40 for a data plan on a cell phone, $160 for cable at home but will refuse to pay $60 for a drug to improve their health. Maybe that is not the case here, and I acknowledge A LOT of people legitimately cannot afford their medications, but a lot of people just don’t want to pay for it.

            • AzCatz07 says:

              You’re getting a lot of pushback, but I have to side with you on this. No, we don’t know all of that woman’s circumstances. Yes, the purse could be a knock-off. Yes, the phone could be used. However, you see this crap all the time.

              We were driving around town yesterday, and my SO was telling me that one of the neighborhoods we were cruising through was the projects (I’m not from here and only really know my work and home neighborhoods). Anyway, many of the cars parked in front of these houses were way nicer than the cars in my development, which consists solely of homeowners. There is a definite problem with people’s priorities right now. I’d rather park a POS in front of a home I bought with my hard-earned money than park a luxury car in front of a home that the government is paying for while I sit home an collect a check. Is there no such thing as pride anymore?

              No, I’m not insensitive. No, I’m not even a Republican. I’m just someone who works hard and is tired of supporting people who refuse to work, even though they can.

              • cantiloon says:

                You can’t look cool in your house, but you can give the impression of being well-to-do in a nice car. Lot’s of people’s priorities are jacked up, but that’s their problem. You see the same thing in white trash neighborhoods as well. Lots of trucks and IROCs…

              • Invader Zim says:

                So you think prescriptions are like 60 really. When I go they are in the hundreds? Where you getting yours filled … do share.

            • VintageLydia says:

              You’re making a lot of assumptions based on such a short observation. I know a lot of really poor people who can’t afford or just plain can’t get health insurance (pre-existing conditions) and though people like you describe do exist, it’s not nearly as common as people think.

          • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

            I have a Liz Claiborne purse and nice leather wallet (I know, I know, not as expensive as Coach) and an LG800G Tracfone. I’m sure someone might look at me, see my Liz purse, Liz wallet, and “smartphone” and make the same assumption.

            Note: purse and wallet together cost $12.00 at a thrift shop, Tracfone was from HSN on sale. We don’t know the circumstances. Someone, like this woman’s parents, could be paying her cell phone bill too – I work with people who pay their adult children’s phone bills.

            • Abradax says:

              HSN? So you have cable TV?

              • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

                Yes, until tomorrow. It has to go now, too. I’m keeping internet service/landline phone only, and phone because cell service is terrible.

        • VintageLydia says:

          I’ve had my iPhone for several years and use it with Straight Talk for $45 a month. I *might* get a hundred dollars for it if I sell it and I have a hell of a lot to sell way before my phone that would net me more money if I really needed it. Phones are a necessity and cell phones are more convenient than landlines (hey, if you need to move suddenly or don’t have stable housing, you don’t have to worry about it!)
          Plus, my ST plan includes data so if I really need to cut Internet, I can still have easy access to my email and LinkdIn without having to find a way to the library. Sure, I can type up cover letters and stuff, but it’s still a huge stop gap if I needed it.

          Basically, STFU. Keeping a smartphone is far far more useful than selling it at a loss, especially when its utility is huge.

      • Not Given says:

        She could probably eBay the purse for $500

        • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

          Oh, puh-LEEZ. Goodwill has ‘em online for $40 – $100 bucks. Good luck getting that $500.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      She may have left so she could check her plan’s booklet and call her insurance company to see why the Rx was rejected. I’ve been in that exact situation before.

    • Smiling says:

      I bought a Coach purse in 2005 because of their quality. I got sick of $50 purse falling apart all of the time. Here it is 2012 and I am still carrying the same purse and it looks new. It was $350. It has cost me $50 a year so far, the same as buying a new $50 purse each year. The difference is, next year, the purse starts saving me money because it still has several years of life left. If I carry it for four more years, I save $200 over the price of if I bought a new purse each year.

  10. cantiloon says:

    Nonsense, we have the best healthcare system in the WORLD! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  11. Gameover says:

    so… does that number of prescription medicated adults not seem particularly troublesome to anyone else? Why are half of all american adults or 1 in 4 “young/not elderly” adults on an average of 4.1 medications. Are our citizens seriously this sick? This seems like a problem in and of itself that needs a solution but what is the cause? Is it the high volume low quality preserved foods most americans are eating? Is it a result of environmental issues (pollutants, smog, toxic exposure etc.)? Or is it over medication? Are doctors/scientists creating and giving out unnecessary drugs and prescriptions? Are some of these frivolous “conditions” or the long-term treatment of symptoms rather than seeking a quick cure to eliminate symptoms all together? Is it a combination of any or all of these?

    • eys says:

      Half the population is women. If half of all young/not elderly women are on some sort of rx birth control, well, there’s your 1 in 4 right there.

      Now add in the folks with asthma (inhalers, other rx drugs)–a good number of otherwise healthy younger adults have this problem.

      Then add in the sick younger folks who need maintenance meds for whatever reason. The 1/4 number makes sense to me.

  12. Thorzdad says:

    Even *with* insurance, many people will stretch prescriptions (or skip them altogether), skip tests, forgo seeing a doctor when ill, etc. Co-pays, high deductibles, out-of-pocket charges, etc. all enter into the calculation.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      Good point — It’s about total cost (premiums and health care) and not so much being insured or uninsured. Having a high deductible, for most purposes, isn’t much different than being uninsured when you cut a check for 100% of medical bills.

      There are also a lot of people out there who spend so much in premiums, that it leaves nothing left to cover co-pays or deductibles.

  13. dolemite says:

    Hell, I *have* insurance and I skip all of that. Every time I finally break down and go to a doctor, I get bills 3x higher than I expect. “What, that test wasn’t covered? That prescription is HOW much with insurance?”

  14. Banished to the Corner says:

    Yes, but how many people WITH insurance do the same thing? Cost and doctors over-prescribing may have a lot to do with it also. Lack of insurance is only one of the factors.

    I have allergies, and I’ve had problems with ear infections my whole life. I’ve learned how to deal with them and only go to the doctor if the infection doesn’t clear up on it’s own in a few days. Last May, I had a serious infection and went to the doctor. At first, he looked at the chart and said, it will probably clear up without medication, but when he looked at it, he decided I need both antibiotic ear drops and oral antibiotics- both I filled. He also wrote me prescriptions for decongestant, allergy medication, nose drops and eye-drops. The pharmacist told me that all four of these were OTC strength and cheaper than using my insurance. I’ve gotten several letters from my doctors office, and one e-mail directly from the doctor asking why I haven’t filled these four prescriptions.

    Because my nephew was immune compromised, my niece has gotten flu shots forever. Her doctor has told her she has to have a pregnancy test before getting a flu shot (She also has great insurance through her union.) So every year she’s gotten a pregnancy test first. I’ve never had to do that, I’ve only been asked by the nurse if I was pregnant.

  15. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Lucky for me, my doctor’s office has an income-based program where if you’re under a certain income, you can visit the doctor for $10. Drawback–it only covers office visits, but there is a lot they can do there. At least I’m able to see my doc if necessary. And he’s really nice too.

    The costs are too high no matter what kind of help you have. The health care act has not addressed this, and it won’t get better until something is done. I wish I had some ideas or suggestions, but unfortunately I don’t.

  16. oldwiz65 says:

    Just those without insurance that covers Rx? Ha! I have Medicare plus a supplementary for Rx and other stuff, but I still hit a coverage gap every year. I skip doses regularly in the 2nd half (or so) of the year because it’s simply too expensive to buy the drugs. I’d much rather be able to eat. Social Security doesn’t provide enough considering the cost of living. We used to be able to buy drugs from Canada, but the drug companies bribed Congress to stop that, so we can’t afford quite a few meds now.

  17. JollySith says:

    I am more concerned with this paragraph

    This news comes at a time when nearly half of adult Americans (46%) are taking some sort of prescription medication, with the average being 4.1 medications. Lest you think that the large, aging Baby Boomer population is skewing this data, the CR survey found that 25% of Americans ages 18 to 39, take at least two prescription medicines.

    It seems highly skewed. How many of those prescriptions are for unneeded medicines like viagra. How many are for birth control (in cases where it does not serve a secondary medical need)

    Then add in the fact that every school kid who fails to turn in an assignment or sit still like a good little automaton gets doped up.

    This is a far larger issue than the financial one.

  18. eetonaee says:

    On Tuesday morning I was walking the dog when I tripped on the sidewalk and went face first into the cement.

    The dog ran away so I cleaned up the blood flowing from inside my mouth where it was gashed by a tooth, ignored the swelling and pain under one eye and on my right hand and spent the next 10 hours searching for the dog. Thanks to a response on craigslist we were reunited with her at a home 2 miles away from ours.

    At this point I finally allowed my wife to take me to emergency at our local hospital.

    We were there for about 3 hours during which time I had an X-ray on my hand and a CT scan on my head. My hand had a broken bone and was put in a splint (like a removable cast). The CT scan showed no internal damage or breaks although my face is a mess.
    The doctors, nurses and technicians were great and gave me lots of instructions for follow up care.

    One thing that was never discussed was money. There was no cashier that I could see. I simply handed over my health card at the beginning of the visit. Everything is covered – no deductible.No surprise bill to follow.

    This is the Canadian system. Some may say I was lucky to be in and out in 3 hours. Cynics will say that I put further burden on a system that is in debt and can not survive at the current level.
    This hospital has already gone through staff reductions but I have no complaints about the service.
    I don’t know what my treatment cost and I don’t know if there is a way to find out.

    I firmly believe that in Canada as in all other western countries except one, affordable health care for everyone is a priority and while there may be staff cuts, and longer wait times especially for non essential procedures, that is still better than bankruptcy or risking your health by avoiding treatment.

    • eetonaee says:

      Forgot to mention that monthly premium is about $90.

      • Anubis says:

        I’m very interested if you know of a non-biased resource that explains the pros and cons of the Canadian system. I know there are great things about it, but is it sustainable? That’s really my biggest concern, because I wouldn’t mind if you had something like that down here, but if there are problems that need to be passed down for future generations to handle, then I couldn’t support it.

        Not looking for an argument, but would like to learn something.

  19. jsibelius says:

    Doesn’t help when my doctor tells me I don’t have my priorities in the right order.

  20. Not Given says:

    They’re changing ours. Right now we have copays, Dr $10, ER $50, out of network 20%, pharmacy 20%. $250/$500 in network deductible, $500/$1000 out of network deductible, a list of free preventive services, it’s like the Cadillac of plans and we don’t pay a dime for premiums. We put pretax $ into an FSA, if we don’t use it, we lose it. We had an extra 3 months to use it up, previously, but since everything changes 1/1/13 we need to use it this year. We could have spent it all in January and taken the rest of the year to pay it in.
    They say we’re getting a high deductible HSA plan with a debit card. $6500 deductible, supposedly they are going to fund the HSA to some extent and we roll over what we don’t use into the next year, but we can’t use it until it’s in there and they’re thinking about funding it by the quarter. They’re saying we will still pay the negotiated price for services, not the price on the bill, but I don’t know how that will work and I don’t know if it includes pharmacy. I think pharmacy counts toward the deductible but I’m not sure it includes the negotiated price on drugs. I don’t know how bad we might come out, if it will end up costing more or not.

  21. TrinityLast says:

    Hey, remember Demolition Man?

  22. GirlWithGloves says:

    Need help with prescription costs, try these sites:
    http://www.needymeds.org
    http://www.pparx.org

    Also, in Ohio, everyone is now possibly eligible for Ohio’s Best Rx program:
    http://www.ohiobestrx.org/en/index.aspx

    Further, if taking a name brand drug, as an example-Humira, contact the manufacturer or check out the manufacturer’s website for the medication to see if they offer a Prescription Assistance program to help out with cost. Some have programs that offer a discount or free medication, if eligible (usually not working/no insurance/etc. is part of the eligibility standard).

    Example: My Humira costs over $1800 a month for two monthly injections. With our medical plan, it’s now under the new Tier IV level of drugs making the copay go from last year’s $60 to now $150 a month. With the prescription assistance program offered by Abbott, I only pay $5 per month; they pick up the rest.

    Research your medication – there may be a program out there that can help you with the cost!

    • GirlWithGloves says:

      Clarification:
      Free cost via manufacturer usually means you aren’t working, have no insurance, or plan refuses to cover your medication. This usually requires verification of income.

      Reduced cost usually means you have income, you have insurance, but the copay for the medication is high. Also may apply if you have income, have insurance, but insurance refuses to cover medication.

  23. dcatz says:

    If you want to freak out a doctor’s office, ask them sometime how much a given procedure or service will cost; chances are, they will be unable to tell you. The medical profession is basically the only profession where you are not allowed to know how much something is even estimated to cost until after you agree to the service; it’s like going to a store and then they can’t tell you the price until after they ring it up and put it on your credit card.

    Health insurance isn’t really insurance so much as it is price fixing on a massive scale combined with government-sanctioned economic rent seeking. The health insurance companies, along with their buddies in government, have created a system in which the health insurance companies are allowed to set the baseline prices for medical services to a level that uninsured people cannot afford them. Ted Kennedy and Richard Nixon tag teamed to screw over Americans by creating this system with the HMO act and now Obamacare further enriches the health insurance scam artists by forcing everyone, under threat of violence, to become their customers.

    I have an HSA which means that I actually pay for most of my healthcare myself. I actually see the cost of healthcare and, yes, I do decline tests and other “services” that I deem unnecessary. I went in for a minor ear infection once and they wanted to run CT scans and all sorts of blood tests. I told them no.

  24. daemonaquila says:

    It’s sad that you’re discussing this like it’s a patient choice. The fact is that more and more doctors simply turn away uninsured patients. If they don’t outright say they won’t see them, they throw up massive barriers like telling prospective patients that they’ll have to cough up hundreds, or thousands, of dollars before they ever even step into the office. That’s quite a way to dissuade a patient who doesn’t know whether a particular doctor will provide good care, or how much that sum is going to cover.

    As for the patients not discussing financial difficulties with their pharmacist, this is just silly. Ever tried to play “let’s make a deal” with Walgreens or CVS or other large, chain pharmacy? Why on earth would they try? Talking to their doctor about a less expensive alternative, or a pharma charity that might cover their meds, could help. Pharmacies won’t do a thing.

  25. Smiling says:

    What about INSURED people who can’t really afford to go to the doctor because they spend all of their money on insurance and have a pretty high deductible? We would be able to afford far more stuff at the doctor’s office if we didn’t have to pay so much for insurance. Once we pay for that, there is no money left to pay for doctor’s visit. Catastrophic coverage is more expensive than the standard plan. The $600 a month we pay to insurance would more than cover our Dr. Bills and then some.

  26. consumerd says:

    Not shocking, I don’t even break $50k annually. it’s getting to the point I am ready to move out of America and live somewhere I can afford. I can’t afford the good old USA anymore. I am not rich enough! I do love all the commercials to “buy a new vehicle!” or Refinance now! My question back to them is Refinance what? I can’t afford a house, I can rent one though! Buy a new vehicle, yea me and my 1998 GMC Jimmy will get right on that!

  27. sahovaman says:

    Of course uninsured people are not visiting doctors, I’ve wanted to go to a doctor for over a year now but I can’t afford it. I’ve needed new eyeglasses for a few years now, but I can’t afford it. I have a minor surgery that I need to have done, but guess what? I can’t afford it!!!!!!

  28. dks64 says:

    Unless I lose a limb, I won’t be going to the doctor anytime soon. I’m without insurance and barely make ends meet without any extras like health care.