People In 49 States Saw Significant Decline In Health Care Access During Last Decade

During the previous decade, millions of Americans, regardless of whether they have insurance or not, found it increasingly more difficult to find — or afford — seeing the doctor or dentist, according to a new study from the folks at the Urban Institute.

The study looked at changes in three areas between 2000 and 2010: People who has unmet medical needs because of financial reasons; people who had gone to the dentist; and people who had made a routine checkup with their doctor.

Only one state, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia did not see a significant negative change in any of the three areas. However, that result isn’t necessarily reason for West Virginia to celebrate, as that state already had the highest rate (20.9%) of people whose medical needs went unmet for financial reasons in 2000.

A handful of states, including Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Virginia, each only saw significant negative changes in one category, while all remaining states had at least two. Those states in dark blue on the above map experienced negative changes in all three categories.

Overall, the number of people in America with unmet needs for financial reasons went up by 6% to 18.7% of the total adult population between the ages of 19-64. Meanwhile, 5.1% fewer people in this age group were getting routine check-ups and 3.9% fewer had seen the dentist for any reason.

One of the more startling results of the study is the number of people with private insurance who still mentioned being unable to see a doctor or get their health care needs met due to financial reasons. According to the study, that number doubled from 5% to 10% in the last decade. Meanwhile, the number of privately insured individuals who delayed seeing the doctor jumped from 4% to 7%.

You can check out the entire report HERE.


Edit Your Comment

  1. AcctbyDay says:

    People who has unmet medical needs are a concern indeed.


    • gedster314 says:

      Welcome to the internet.

      Actually I find it very difficult to proofread on a computer screen. If something is important, I will always print it and proofread it. I find that I catch more mistakes on a hard copy. I am bothered when I catch errors in my newspaper and magazines. I tend to hold them in higher regard.

      In regards to the story. We really need to do something about the medical system. The insurance companies are not interested in health care, only in profits. The government needs to define what standard care is and how much it should cost. I even would like to see standard care payed for by a federal sales tax. If you want anything more then standard care you need to purchase insurance. The burdon of healthcare should be removed from our employer’s back, the money that your employer pays for insurance should be applied to your salary.

      Sure it’s socialism but what we have now sure is not working and is only getting worse. At least with a sales tax, everyone is taking part and shares the burdon.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        I heard that. I think it is very hard to proofread on a computer screen, especially numbers with transpositions and words w/ small typos.

      • AcctbyDay says:

        A news organization shouldn’t get a pass on proofreading just because it’s hard to do.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Why should they waste their time doing it when one of you will do it for them for free?

    • Missing in Vlissingen says:

      Here’s the problem with sloppy or nonexistent proofreading. In the text, Massachusetts is listed as a state where only ONE category declined. But on the map, it’s blue — indicating THREE declines. Contradiction.

      Spelling errors and typos demonstrate carelessness. When readers know a blog (or other “news” source) is careless, it undermines credibility. And rightfully so, because there is clearly an error with the content of this post, to go along with the usual minor mistakes.

  2. u1itn0w2day says:

    People with insurance still unable to seek a doctor or medical attention due to financial reasons.

    And that describes the psuedo government corporate run health care system based on the premise someone else is paying for it. Health care isn’t like Costco or gym where you just whip out your membership card. This is more proof that pricing is based on the fact someone else is paying for it will spiral upward. With insurance is just as bad for a doctors visit anyway because these practices get the double dip of insurance payments and patient copays.

    This is proof that a mandate will not make health CARE affordable. It might make some INSURANCE policies cheaper but it will not make health CARE cheaper. People will get a cheap policy just to say they are covered but will not use it unless a dire emergency because of deductables and copays. The presence of insurance does not make things cheaper.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The difference is that *YOU* can’t change the price you pay for services, but if the government is acting as arbiter for *EVERYONE*, they can mandate the payout for each procedure. The industry will follow by reducing the costs involved.

      • aerodawg says:

        Actually you can. If you pay cash up front you can generally negotiate a lower payment. I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.

        As far as cramming down prices by fiat, well that generally lowers access to care just as much as anything else as we’ve seen with lower reimbursement rates for Medicaid programs. There does come a point where Drs just won’t provide the service for the amount being paid and simply stop accepting patients who use the program.

        So unless your plan is force every doctor to accept the program and not take cash payments, I don’t think it will work like you assume it will….

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Ridiculous and patently untrue. What it does actually prove is that premiums are going up while coverage is going down, i.e., that even though people have insurance they still can’t afford to see a doctor due to ever-increasing co-payments and deductibles.

      Insurance actually keeps costs down, because they aren’t willing to pay anything even close to the “cash” price for services.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        I look at it as co pays and deductables are increasing or too much for the insuree period. Insurance doesn’t address the cost or inflation of health CARE. The health CARE industry has a pricing structure based on the premise a third party is going to pay for it. If someone wants to or has to pay for health CARE on their own they are still dealing with the same pricing structure.

        Some practices in the industry will cut you a cash or self pay break. Others demand or expect the fee they normally get when they double dip the insurance company and patient with co pays or deductables. I’ve spent time filling out paper work demanding/agreeing to such. Also remember paying those bills.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Again, this just isn’t true. I don’t know how else to tell you you’re flat-out wrong.

          Most people do not abuse their health insurance because their coverage is so poor. So it’s not a matter of “well I’ll just go and have all these tests done and take all these pills cause someone else is paying for it”. No, it doesn’t go that way. It goes “I really don’t have the extra $35 I need for the copayment to see my doctor for the $25 I’ll need for the presciption copay so I’m just going to suck it up and hope it goes away.”

          And as I’ve pointed out already, the amount that insurance companies pay is a tiny fraction of what’s actually billed. For an operation that someone without insurance would pay $30K the insurance company might pay $1500-$2K. Now you *might* be able to negotiate a cash discount if you don’t have insurance, but I can guarantee you won’t pay what the insurance company pays.

          Seriously, hospitals are going out-of-business every single day. How exactly is that a sign that they’re making tons of cash? Between shrinking payments from insurance companies to higher-than-ever numbers of people using the ER as a doctor’s office and raking up bills they could never ever pay they are all going bankrupt. If everyone is paying into the system then this problem is eliminated virtually overnight. Everyone has coverage so there is no incentive to abuse the ER. And insurance companies, now forced to be competitive, will ultimately need to stop price gouging their subscribers and providers or face extinction.

          Sorry, but the facts are not in your favor on this one.

  3. Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

    Well, let’s see. Every year my premium goes up and my coverage goes down so…..

  4. mjcboston says:

    Sure don’t know why you mention MA in level 1, as it is clear it is dark blue (3)

    • chiieddy says:

      MA is interesting because according to state statistics, 98% of all legal residents are insured. That said, it does not account for illegal residents and likely included is the fact that legal aliens were told they could not qualify for the state run insurance program but this was recently overturned by the state supreme judicial court, so that demographic is now eligible to receive insurance again. MA has an insurance mandate very similar to the national insurance mandate.

      • Skyhawk says:

        And health care costs are up 22%, premiums go up 9-11% per year, and the program loses $64 million per year, which is subsidized by all US taxpayers through a federal grant.
        And the result of all this? Only an additional 5% Mass. residents covered.
        I made a doctor’s appointment last week. The earliest one I could get is in NOVEMBER.

        Yeah, government sure made everything better.

        • chiieddy says:

          All this is happening in states without the law too. So you can’t correlate the law to increased health care costs. As for the doctor wait. I can see mine within a week for an emergency. My first appointment the very first time I saw my doctor was 6 months. Other than that, I’ve had no problem making routine appointments within 6 weeks. Sounds like you might need a new doctor who’s a bit less busy.

          Family practice physicians are a shortage nationwide, not just in MA. So again, you can’t correlate the two.

          Additionally, while there were initial increases in wait times for family physicians in MA, this went down significantly after the first year. The main reason for the initial influx were people with insurance who were no longer clogging emergency rooms. Horrible thing.

          • Skyhawk says:

            Actually, I can connect the increase in MY premiums ($200 more PER MONTH) DIRECTLY to the Mass. program, as the increases were itemized by my union based on the additional coverages required for my policy to be deemed ‘creditable coverage’. This included pregnancy coverage for a SINGLE male, among other gems.

            • Skyhawk says:

              And the increases resulting from covering all the illegal aliens have yet to be added.
              Just like Obamacare, it was promised not to cover illegal aliens. And, just like we’ll see with Obamacare, illegal aliens will have equal, if not better, coverage than US citizens.

              • chiieddy says:

                You obviously did not read what I said and I’d love to see how an itemized list somehow indicates rises in cost are specifically due to a single law when nationwide carriers mean any change anywhere in the system will effect the system nationwide. Also, I never said illegal aliens, I said LEGAL aliens which the government tried to deny insurance rights. These are people who moved to the US legally and were trying to get MassHealth. The state government tried to deny them this because they were not citizens and this was deemed illegal under the state constitution.

                • Skyhawk says:

                  Yes, I read exactly what you wrote and corrected your assertion that the increases were not related to government take-over of health care.
                  It’s funny how you deny writing something and then ask for proof to refute what you said.

                  “So you can’t correlate the law to increased health care costs.”

                  Yes, I can.

                  The mandates in the new law required my health plan to include coverages that were not required before the new law took effect. Otherwise, every union member would have been fined $912 for not maintaining ‘creditable coverage’.
                  This increased my premiums by $200 per month.

                • Skyhawk says:

                  “That said, it does not account for illegal residents “
                  Do you even read what you write?

  5. SexCpotatoes says:


  6. rlmiller007 says:

    Great… and for that I get the privilege of paying 25% percent of my income per month ( with a deductable and massive co-pays) and I get less care. No surprise. The more regulations you heap on them the less care we’ll get for the same money.

    • PunditGuy says:

      Right. Regulations are the reason. Because health insurance costs weren’t going up at all until the govmint started mandating stuff.

  7. dolemite says:

    But…Republicans say we have the best healthcare in the world (not true by a longshot) and the system is working fine with no problems (lol) and there aren’t any long waits or anything!

    Honestly, if I had to choose between a wait of a few months or not getting a procedure done at all because my insurance won’t cover it or my insurance company decided it was a pre-existing, I think I’ll go with socialized medicine.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Waiting “a few months” is no more acceptable than not being able to afford treatment. Waiting quite often is just as bad as not bothering. You can suffer permanent damage by “merely waiting”.

      Healthcare needs to be affordable and needs to be divorced from big business or big government. People need to be able to fend for themselves rather than being big children.

      • Cat says:

        Are you fuck-nuts crazy? There are 2 health insurance systems in the world, one is single payer (big government) and the other is for-profit insurance (big business).

        What do you suggest to those whose medical bills exceed their ability to ever repay them? Death?

      • exconsumer says:

        True. Waiting forever for care would be pretty bad for you.

        But developed countries with socialized or tightly regulated health care don’t produce inordinately long wait times. Across the board they cover more people (usually everyone), get results as good as ours (usually better), and do it for less money (usually half).

      • BennieHannah says:

        I have excellent insurance that is more expensive than our mortgage payment. Guess who is waiting three months to see a PPO dermatologist to have this rather alarming-looking spot on my leg looked at? Before you blame me, I was born fair-skinned in the South and wear sunscreen religiously after a childhood of summer-long sunburns, and I’m just thankful I HAVE insurance so that I can go once a year to be looked over.

        With my “excellent” insurance that I pay a LOT for, I’m also forced to wait until the pain in my foot (a congenital bone malformation) gets worse before I’m eligible for surgery. I walk/run 3-5 miles a day and while I don’t let the pain stop me from getting the exercise I feel necessary to maintain health, my right foot pretty much hurts all the time and I can only wear certain types of shoes, it’s just not “disabling” pain.

        Yeah, so YAY! US healthcare. I really love paying big bucks to have my health care rationed.

    • miguelggarcia says:

      Let’s see… With socialized medicine the government decides if you’re “old enough” to be treated or not (or at least they’ll give you really long times before you’re actually treated or seen by a doctor, almost like “betting” that you’ll die before having to pay for your treatment).
      With socialized medicine, specialists are so scarce that, again, you’re left to wait for them to be available, why? because you’ll have to wait in line, like everybody else, regardless of the urgency of your treatment.
      With socialized medicine you deal with all the ordeals you usually deal at your friendly DMV office. Why? Because healthcare employees don’t have any incentives to care for you.
      How do I know it? Because I see it every time my grandparents need to wait for months just to see a Doctor that won’t show up on the day of the appointment.

      • dolemite says:

        That may not be a symptom of simply socialized vs privatized. We are facing a huge shortage of doctors in the US as well. There will be huge waits for many people in the near future.

      • exconsumer says:

        Very interesting theoretical analysis, but the world as it actually is operates in a different manner. Countries that socialize or tightly regulate their health care typically:

        1. Cover everyone
        2. Achieve the same or better health outcomes (tend towards better)
        3. Do it for half the cost (yes, half)

      • pop top says:

        Do you ahve anything other than anecdotal evidence to back this up?

      • cinnamongym says:

        You’ve clearly never experienced socialized medicine for yourself. While, it’s not perfect, and it’s very true the wait times can be a lot longer, you are false in saying that urgancy plays no part in the length of time you wait. For example, when I was a teenager, my family doctor suspected that I had blood poisoning, but wanted a specialist to check me out because it wasn’t presenting like a textbook case. I got into a specialist within an hour (one who had a 3 month wait list nonetheless), because blood poisoning is something that needs to be urgently taken care of.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! Oh my goodness that’s a good one!!! It’s almost like you actually believe it!!!

      • Kuri says:

        So what you’re saying is there wouldn’t be any difference, well, except that you’ll actually get the procedure done without someone you never met before and couldn’t give a piss about you deciding that you’re problem is pre -existing, or pouring over your family records. looking for something, anything they can cut you off over.

      • bsh0544 says:

        In general, when I schedule an appointment with a specialist or a new doctor (I’ve been looking around for a good primary care doc) I have to schedule at *least* 3 months out, if not 6 or more. One doc I called in March and the earliest I could get it was January. Seriously.

  8. Alan says:

    yea… wife went to the hospital for a minor surgery…. was in and out in about 5 hours… ended up costing about a month’s pay after (good) insurance. great stuff there…

  9. Cat says:

    “The amazing thing is there are people who’ve never left this country who talk about the fact that we’re the greatest country on Earth. How fucking dumb is that?! Cuz you don’t know, if you haven’t left here you don’t know. There are countries that may be giving shit away every day! Canada’s one of those countries. You know what they give away? HEALTH INSURANCE!”

    ~Lewis Black

    • costanza007 says:

      I’ve never left the planet and somehow know stuff about other planets.

      Also, Canada doesn’t give it away. They ask for the money first or it’s merely not spent somewhere else. Nothing is free. I’m not saying pre-paid healthcare is right or wrong, just saying it isn’t given away, no matter how hilariously Lewis Black says it.

      • Cat says:

        Excuse Mr. Black’s hyperbole.

        I have left this country, and I’ve found that those with socialized medicine have better health care. But in some countries, with the “extreme for profit” model – they won’t even let you into the hospital without a major chunk of cash up front.

    • aerodawg says:

      “You know what they give away? HEALTH INSURANCE”

      Just because “someone else” pays for it doesn’t make it “free”….

  10. prizgrizbiz says:

    News flash: Healthcare is expensive because it is valuable.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Health care is over priced because someone else is paying for it. There’s expensive & justified then there’s exploitation & price gouging.

      • PunditGuy says:

        That seems to make sense, until it doesn’t. An MRI in Japan is a fraction of what it costs here, and that cost, minus a copay, is not borne by the patient.

    • nishioka says:

      Healthcare is expensive because healthcare is expensive. Compare costs, procedure by procedure, between the United States and some of those “socialist” countries out there. You know, places like France, Australia, and Japan.

    • zantafio says:

      No it’s expensive because it is for profit. Mandate that health insurance companies become non profit (mutual insurance) and you solve half of the problem.

      • aerodawg says:

        Based on what? The typical insurance company has a profit margin of just a few percentage points. Saving a few pennies per dollar isn’t exactly going to change the world.

        Health care is expensive because shocker, everybody in the health care pipeline expects to get paid for the expertise they bring to the table.

        Your doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training before they can really start work, is it any shock they expect to get paid for that?

        Every bit of equipment and supplies they use has to be FDA approved, is designed and tested by a pile of scientists and engineers who expect to get paid and manufactured in controlled facilities. Is it any wonder that costs a lot of $$$?

  11. sponica says:

    my access decreased because there has been HIGH turnover at my family practice the past 5 years. At one point they were down to 2 MDs and a PA, when they normally have 4 or 5 MDs.

  12. Kuri says:

    I love how people who have never been to another country seem to know absolutely everything about that country’s health-care system.

    I remember a story about a man who visited England to see where the album pic for Abbey Road was shot. He broke his arm trying to hand walk across it. Despite not being a citizen, he was admitted into a hospital and taken care of at no cost to him.

    Another argument I hear for the current system is that there is somehow accountability.

    No there isn’t. Your employer may mandate that you be on their insurance, and in cases you may not have a choice if you can’t afford it yourself. Plus, if you do manage to leave and find another insurance provider, the one you left still has a strong revenue stream, so you leaving won’t make a dent.

    • MrEvil says:

      My colleagues in the UK (I work for a UK based company) have said as much to me when asked about their NHS.

  13. Weakly says:

    What kind of color spectrum goes Green, Brown, Light Blue, Dark Blue?

  14. flipflopju says:

    I thought tort reform was supposed to fix my state and yet we’re dark blue.

  15. v1ctorsag3 says:

    Wouldn’t it make sense that when a government attempts to transition from a mostly privatized to a mostly socialized healthcare system, businesses and health insurance agencies would start offering fewer healthcare benefits to employees at higher rates or eliminate the benefits all together?

    Do people really think it’s going to be a flick of the switch to change hundreds of millions of healthcare plans?

    There will be problems, very big problems in some cases, with this transition. In 10-20 years when Congress tries to transition back from mostly socialized to mostly privatized healthcare again, we will have the same problems. The difference will be that most people will blame the insurance agencies and corporate greed then, too.

  16. frodolives35 says:

    Insurance companies are a parasite on society. They don’t even give you peace of mind anymore. You have to worry if they will find 1 sentence in a 40 page document that allows them to deny your coverage ,not to mention the worry of the ever increasing cost. If you add up what I pay to one insurance company or another it is by far my greatest expense more then my mortgage or car payment.

    • v1ctorsag3 says:

      The bright side is (assuming you live in the US) that no one would ever force you to buy health insurance under any circumstances. So you’ll always have a way out!

      Oh, wait… Crap…

  17. I Love Christmas says:

    I live in California and am (unfortunately) on Medi-Cal, which is California’s name for Medicaid.

    We’re told that paying for preventative care is cheaper in the long run because you can often avoid serious and more expensive problems later. So a few years back the geniuses in Sacramento stopped the Medi-Cal program from paying for routine dental procedures like check-ups, cleanings, and fillings. But if you have pain in your tooth or jaw, they will eagerly pay for a root canal or to have your tooth ripped out. This was done, of course, for budgetary reasons.

    So it’s cheaper to prevent the problem, but they refuse to. Why? The best I can figure is that it’s cheaper *now* to ignore the problem and kick the can down the road. And if it’s more expensive later…well, that’s some other politician’s problem.

    The scary thing is that 16 million more people will be put into Medicaid as part of Obamacare. If this a taste of what Obamacare will be like, thanks but no thanks.

  18. Jenny8675309 says:

    This story is poorly written.

    A handful of states, including Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Virginia, each only saw significant negative changes in one category, while all remaining states had at least two. Those states in dark blue on the above map experienced negative changes in all three categories.

    I live in Massachusetts and the map shows that it is dark blue. So which is correct?

  19. tooluser says:

    “Statistically Significant” is not the same concept as “Significant”.

    Statistically Significant compares variations in a data set, while Significant compares variations from a target, goal, or ideal.

  20. DragonThermo says:

    I haven’t gone to the dentist in a while despite having dental insurance. I’m sorry for screwing up the statistics. However, unlike the parasites and leeches who want the government to steal money for working people and give them free health care, my “unmet health care needs” are purely self-inflicted.

    Just remember, ObamaCare was NEVER about providing people with affordable health care or health insurance. It is a naked Marxist power grab. if it were about providing people with affordable health care and health insurance, there are other private-sector solutions that would be more effective. Unfortunately, those private-sector solutions don’t increase the power and intrusiveness of government in your daily life.

  21. ganon446 says:

    I’m not a single mother or women so I cannot get free health care. In fact the good Family Court Judge requires me by extension of my son for me to have my works most expensive coverage and then the single mother just gets on All Kids so everything is free and doesn’t pay co pays but yeah.

    The dance will come to and end some day people who share the same politics are not breeding like rabbits