Avoiding the doctor? 53% choose to skip medical care because of skyrocketing costs

NEW YORK — How often should you go to the doctor? It turns out that only 34 percent of Americans have visited their primary care doctor in the past year. So, what’s keeping people from getting the care they need? A new survey of 2,000 U.S. adults examined their biggest barriers to healthcare access. Results show out-of-pocket expenses are a major concern, with 53 percent stating this impacts their decision not to seek medical care when necessary. 

Nearly half (49%) also cited a lack of transportation to the facility where they would need care or being unable to afford the ride.

While nearly half (49%) budget for out-of-pocket expenses, there were differences among generations polled. Gen X Americans led the charge in planning these costs (54%), compared to baby boomers (39%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Assurance IQ, results also found just over two-thirds (67%) feel knowledgeable about how their health insurance plan works. Gen X respondents were more likely to share this sentiment (71%), compared to only 48 percent of Gen Z.

Overall, seven in 10 (72%) are confident they know exactly what is and isn’t covered by their current health insurance plan. Yet a similar generational disparity was present. Around three in four Gen X survey-takers felt well-informed (78%), while only 53 percent of Gen Z did.

Additionally, the data revealed knowledge gaps in people’s understanding of healthcare in the U.S. Nearly one-third (32%) don’t feel informed about how the American healthcare system works.

healthcare workers
(Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels)

While many felt confident they could explain terms such as preventative care (53%) and out-of-pocket (OOP) limit or maximum OOP (48%) to others, respondents were less sure they knew the difference between Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts (36%) and what an FSA is (35%).

“Health insurance can be confusing to navigate, and our research shows this is especially true for younger people,” says consumer financial wellness advocate at Assurance IQ Kate Long, in a statement. “Many people end up enrolling in a plan where they don’t understand how much they will end up spending. Or a plan that doesn’t cover their unique needs. This can lead them to forgo critical care if it leads to an unexpected expense.”

Only half (49%) of people polled said they like the current American healthcare industry, with 43 percent saying it could use minor changes. 

The top three ways to improve it? Respondents say encourage more people to use preventative care (41%), increase access to quality insurance coverage (33%), and eliminate the fee-for-service payment system (28%).

“For many, there are barriers to finding quality coverage,” adds Long. “Especially for those who don’t receive insurance through an employer. People often don’t know all the options available to them in terms of plans or financial subsidies, so they either go without or select a plan that doesn’t address their needs. Talking to a licensed insurance agent who asks the right questions can make the process much easier.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Assurance IQ between July 28 and July 30, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia is a recent graduate from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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