While more than $3.3 trillion—nearly one-fifth of the gross domestic product—is spent on health care in the United States, The West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago poll finds Americans report that costs are a factor in a number of decisions they make about their care, and health care costs are affecting their finances.
Thirty percent report they have had difficulty paying for basic necessities, like food, heat, and housing, due to medical costs, while 36% say they have had to use up all or most of their savings. Nearly one-third (32%) report borrowing money or increasing credit card debt, and 41% say they decreased contributions to a savings plan because of health care expenses.
The survey also finds Americans say they often go without needed care or choose less expensive options due to costs, which could led to more serious illnesses down the road. For example, 40% say they skipped a recommended medical test or treatment in the last 12 months due to cost, and 32% were unable to fill a prescription or took less of a medication because of the cost.
Sixty percent of those who report skipping a recommended test or treatment due to cost say they fear the cost of a serious illness, compared to 27% of those who have not reported doing so. When it comes to fear of getting a serious illness itself, 47% of people who have skipped a test or treatment due to cost are afraid of becoming ill, compared to 24% of those who have not done this.The nationwide survey was conducted February 15 through February 19, 2018, using the AmeriSpeak Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews were conducted with 1,302 adults. The survey report is here.