High Inflation and Housing Costs Force Americans to Delay Needed Health Care

(NPR) In a recent Gallup poll, 38% of Americans surveyed said they had put off medical treatment last year due to cost, up from 26% in 2021. The new figure is the highest since Gallup started tracking the issue in 2001.

A survey by The Kaiser Family Foundation last summer showed similar results. It found people were most likely to delay dental care, followed by vision services and doctor’s office visits. Many didn’t take medications as prescribed.

In the Kaiser poll, 85 percent of uninsured adults said they found it difficult to pay for health care. Nearly half of insured respondents said they struggled with affordability as well.

The U.S. experienced record high inflation rates last year, and parts of Florida, including the nearby Tampa metro area, often fared even worse.

Research shows putting off health care can lead to bigger problems.

The Gallup poll found 27% of respondents delayed treatment due to costs even for “very or somewhat serious” conditions.

Another reason people may be holding off on treating medical issues is that they already have health care debt. An investigation from NPR and Kaiser Health News found about 100 million people in America had medical debt. About 1 in 8 owe more than $10,000, according to a KFF poll.

Treating cancers or chronic conditions like diabetes early can not only save lives, it can also be less expensive than treating advanced-stage illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.