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Almost 1 in 5 Americans Going Without Health Care
Date:12/3/2007

Money, availability of care and lack of transportation combine to limit access, CDC report finds

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 20 percent of Americans, or more than 40 million adults, can't afford or access needed health care, according to a new U.S. government report released Monday.

Access to health care is the focus of this year's Health, United States, 2007 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It shows that one-fifth of Americans couldn't afford one or more of these services: medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses.

"People tend to equate access to care with insurance," said report author Amy Bernstein, chief of the analytic studies branch at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "But access to care is more than insurance."

"People assume that if you have health insurance of any kind that you're okay, but that's not the case," she added.

Among the other barriers are locales without enough doctors, lack of transportation to doctors and clinics, and shortages of such organs as kidneys for transplants.

That means that even when people "have health insurance there are still disparities," Bernstein said.

In 2005, almost one in 10 people aged 18 to 64 years old reported not being able to afford prescription drugs and almost 10 percent said they postponed getting the medical care they needed.

While it's not the only factor, a lack of health insurance remains a key to accessing care, Bernstein said.

"We have a lot of evidence that people who don't have health insurance are much less likely to receive services than people who do," she said. "Health insurance is critical."

Other findings in the annual report:

  • About 30 percent of young adults 18 to 24 do not have a usual source of medical care, and 30 percent have no health insurance.

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