Kids are getting shortchanged on medical care due to cost. Even among parents who have insurance, the high cost of health care is keeping them from taking their children to the doctor, according to a new study.
For this study, researchers wanted to see what affects a family’s decision to put off or go without medical care. They included the cost of health care in relation to the family’s income, and having a child with physical, social, behavioral, or cognitive limitations.
Families with health insurance are not immune to the rising costs of health care, and still face the burdens of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.
The study was led by Lauren E. Wisk, a doctoral student and graduate research assistant in the School of Medicine and Public Health at University of Wisconsin, Madison, who examined data from 6,273 families with at least one child.
“It Costs Too Much to be Healthy”
In a press release, Wisk said:
“Every U.S. family has a finite amount of resources available to them, and every day they have to make decisions about how to allocate those resources. This is especially true in today’s economy where you hear people talk about ‘feeling the pinch.’ This study shows the unfortunate reality of the situation. Families aren’t choosing to spend their money on going to the doctor when someone is sick because of how much it cost them to see the doctor last time. They’re sacrificing their health because it costs too much to be healthy.”
Results indicated that an excessive financial burden, having a child with ongoing activity limitation, and a parent with intermittent insurance all raised the chances that a family would delay or go without needed medical care. When the child and parent had the same insurance, they were more likely to get the medical care they needed.
“Excessive financial burden” was defined as insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health care expenses exceeding 10 percent of family income. “Delayed or forgone care” was defined as putting off or going without medical care or prescription medications for a parent or child due to cost and/or insurance-related reasons.
Families with an income less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level were more apt to delay or forgo care than families with an income at or above 400 percent of the poverty level.
Cost of Health Care “Causing Americans to be Sicker”
The study concluded that reducing the occurrence of delayed or forgone care may improve health outcomes by increasing the opportunity to receive timely and preventive care. More research is planned.
“We expect that if people aren’t getting the care they need, they’ll be sicker as a result. When you put this all together and look at the big picture, the cost of health care in the U.S. could actually be causing Americans to be sicker.”
Source: Pediatric Academic Societies
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