Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Routine Health Care Compromised by the Economy

The global economic crisis has affected routine health care more in the US than in countries that have universal systems;

The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, finds that “Americans, who face higher out-of-pocket health care costs, have reduced their routine medical care” much more than people in Britain, Canada, France and Germany.


Among Americans responding to the survey, they said, 26.5 percent reported reducing their use of routine medical care since the start of the global economic crisis in 2007.
This proportion dwarfs the comparable numbers for other countries: 5.3 percent in Canada, 7.6 percent in Britain, 10.3 percent in Germany and 12 percent in France.

“Even in countries with universal coverage, individuals pay some medical care costs out of pocket,” the researchers noted.

Cutbacks were generally correlated with the size of out-of-pocket costs, the researchers found. The proportion of people reporting reductions in routine care was smaller in Britain and Canada, where the co-payments are lower, than in France and Germany, where somewhat larger co-payments are required.

This isn't a surprise. People who have difficult choices to make about keeping a roof over the family's head and food on the table will ignore their own health issues for as long as possible. Sadly, this will mean ignoring problems until they reach a critical stage, which will mean that many will die for want of routine care.

Economic desperation is why massive free medical clinics are a draw, like this one at the beginning of the month. From HuffPo:

A massive free health clinic for uninsured people in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning attracted nearly two thousand people, from infants to the elderly, all taking advantage of free doctor attention, blood tests and cancer screenings they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.

The story profiles two men in their fifties who were laid off from their good jobs where they had insurance. They just can't afford COBRA.

One of the men is quoted:
"Did I think I was gonna be coming to a free health clinic after working as a teacher for 24 years? No," he told HuffPost. "My resumé speaks for itself.

Originally posted at Main St/workingamerica.org

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