Health Care Is Getting So Expensive, Young Adults Would Rather Just Skip It

Who needs silly things like prescriptions and MRIs when health care costs so much? Not the millions of young adults who are skipping necessary care and treatment because of the rising cost of getting medical attention, says a new report.

A Commonwealth Fund Survey found that 41% of young adults, ages 19 to 29, failed to get medical care in a recent one-year period because it costs too much. And among those that don’t have insurance it was even worse, at 60%, reports CNNMoney.

Skimping on care can include failing to fill prescriptions, deciding not to get tests or treatments recommended by doctors, never going to see a doctor in the first place or skipping out on seeing specialists.

“This reflects the high cost of medical care right now and health plans that may not cover people very well,” said Dr. Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund and chief author of the survey.

When it comes to medical advice, young adults are all fingers in the ears, “na na na I can’t hear you” as soon as the high cost of treatment comes up. As one doctor puts it, you twist your knee playing soccer and go to get an MRI, but if the doctor says you’re going to have to pay 50% of that cost, odds are you might decide to just skip it.

And those who do seek care are under a heavy cloud of medical debt, with 36% of respondents saying they’ve had problems paying medical bills or were working on paying off medical debt over time. Many young adults are using up their savings, taking on credit card debt or were unable to pay off student loans because of medical debt.

One bright spot for young adults is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows for parents to cover their offspring on their insurance plans until they reach the age of 26. That provision will be fully implemented by 2014, but could be stuck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, a big blow for young adults who can’t afford medical coverage on their own.

“If the law is struck down, the level of debt for young adults will continue to climb, and they will continue to worry about medical bills and not getting access to coverage,” said one survey author. “It all really compounds the difficulties young adults are facing at a really critical time given the economic environment.”

Young adults skip health care as medical debts rise [CNNMoney]