New Survey: Millions suffer consequences of delaying doctor visits, filling prescriptions

Millions of Americans suffering from at least one chronic health problem are putting off care, not taking needed medications, and resigning themselves to feelings of isolation and depression according to a new poll commissioned by the National Council on Aging, with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the California HealthCare Foundation. The findings strongly echo those from a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released last week, which found that more than three-quarters of adult Americans who have health insurance say they still worry about paying more for their medical care, and almost 50 percent say they're “very” or “extremely” worried about the issue. Many in this demographic are not filling prescriptions, missing doctors' visits, not taking recommended treatments or cutting back on medication and foregoing dental care. According to the National Council on Aging, 30 million Americans aged 65 and over have at least one chronic health condition. Such conditions eat up the lion’s share of the nation’s health care costs. “Nearly 133 million people in the U.S. have chronic conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The medical care costs of people with chronic diseases account for more than 75 percent of the nation’s $2 trillion in medical costs,” said James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging. “ Highlights of the new poll, which surveyed 1,109 Americans aged 44 and over, each of whom suffered from at least one chronic health problem, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma or depression, include:
  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents had at least two chronic conditions, while 20 percent had four or more.
  • One-quarter of respondents said they had delayed getting health care or neglected filling a prescription because of financial concerns. This problem seemed to be more pronounced among Latinos (43 percent) and Baby Boomer women (39 percent).
  • Low-income individuals were more likely to delay care, but also 22 percent of individuals with household incomes of $50,000 or more having made such a decision.
  • In general, about one-third of respondents were “always” or “frequently” in physical pain. Those with multiple chronic conditions were more likely to report being in pain.
  • Being chronically ill also left many Americans feeling isolated: 39 percent reported not getting the help and support they need to cope; many have had to cut back on social activities and also experience stress in their family relationships.
  • One-quarter of those with jobs reported having had to miss work due to health concerns.
  • The survey also identifies barriers to self-care and what is needed to better manage overall health.
    http://www.ncoa.org/healthierlives/