Health Care Costs Keep 30% of Americans From Getting Treatment [Poll]

Written by: Christina Merhar
Published on December 11, 2013.

In a recent Gallup poll, Americans named health care cost as the most urgent health problem in the nation this year -- citing this issue more than health care access, obesity, and cancer. The poll found that health care costs prohibit 30% of Americans from getting treatment. And, lower-income and younger adults are most likely to have delayed treatment.

The poll was conducted November 7-10, 2013, and asked 1,039 adults living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia about their health care. 

Here is a summary of key findings from the Gallup poll.

Health Care Costs Keep 30% of Americans From Getting Treatment 

Gallup Health Care Costs Poll

When asked if they had delayed medical care in the last year because of cost, 30% said yes. According to the poll:

  • Uninsured Americans are more than twice as likely as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance to say they put off medical treatment. 59% of the uninsured have put off care because of cost, compared to 22% of those with Medicare or Medicaid and 25% with private health insurance.

  • Younger Americans (age 18 to 29) and lower-income Americans -- two groups that are the least likely to have health coverage -- are significantly more likely to have put off treatment than older and higher-earner Americans.

  • As part of health care reform in 2014, nearly all Americans be required to get insurance or pay a fine (aka the "individual mandate"). Most uninsured Americans say they plan to get insurance, which is likely to reduce the percentage who put off medical treatment. (See: Individual Mandate - Will the Uninsured Pay or Play?) But about one in four Americans who currently have insurance still put off treatment, so decreasing the number of uninsured should reduce Americans' forgoing medical treatment for cost reasons, but won't eliminate it.

Americans More Likely to Put Off Care for Serious Conditions

The poll also asked about the severity of medical treatment that was put off due to cost. According to the poll:
  • Overall, Americans are more likely to put off medical treatment for a serious condition than a non-serious one, which generally has been the case since Gallup began asking this question annually in 2001.

  • The percentage of Americans putting off treatment for a serious condition because of cost has increased since the early 2000s, while the percentage putting it off for a non-serious condition has barely budged.

Click here to read the full Gallup poll results.

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Originally published on December 11, 2013. Last updated December 11, 2013.


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