Poll: A Third of Americans Couldn't Afford Medical Treatment

February 20, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The problem of rising health care costs come home in a real way for many Americans last year as a new poll found a third delayed getting needed medical care because they couldn't afford it

Some 31% of the 1,000 people polled by the Gallup Organization for the Reader’s Digest Family Index said they encountered the problem of health treatment that was simply too expensive, according to a report in Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week. To top it off, of that group, 57% said the medical problem was very or somewhat serious.

These results mean that in the past year, 18% of all US families – more than one in six – experienced a serious health problem representing a bill they couldn’t pay.

“The Readers Digest Family Index demonstrates vividly the impact that health care costs have on American families,” said Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Reader’s Digest Family Index advisor, in a statement. “The stunning number in the Family Index – that nearly a third of American families had put off medical treatment because they could not afford it – makes the abstract problem real indeed.”

The number of workers at corporations with more than 500 employees who lack health coverage has increased by 50% since 1987, reports The Commonwealth Fund, a health-care research foundation.