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Millions of Americans With Chronic Ills Put Off Health Care
Date:3/18/2009

Survey shows they suffer consequences of delaying doctor visits, filling prescriptions

WEDNESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Millions of Americans suffering from at least one chronic health problem are putting off care, not taking needed medications, and resigning themselves to feelings of isolation and depression.

So reveals a new poll commissioned by the National Council on Aging, with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the California HealthCare Foundation.

"This report presents a distressing picture of the barriers facing those most in need of ongoing care and support, whether or not they have insurance," said Carol Pryor, policy director of the Access Project in Boston. "As we look toward reforming our health care system, we need to ensure that these barriers are reduced or eliminated. In some countries, for example, co-pays are waived for people with chronic conditions to ensure that they can get timely care without having to worry about the cost. This can reduce barriers to care and also lower costs in the long run."

The findings strongly echo those from a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released last week, which found that more than three-quarters of adult Americans who have health insurance say they still worry about paying more for their medical care, and almost 50 percent say they're "very" or "extremely" worried about the issue.

Again, many in this demographic are not filling prescriptions, missing doctors' visits, not taking recommended treatments or cutting back on medication and foregoing dental care.

Experts expressed concern that, with the economy in recession and many Americans losing their employer-based health insurance, the problem may only get worse.

According to the National Council on Aging, 30 million Americans aged 65 and over have at least one chronic health condition. Such conditions eat up the lion's share of the nation's health care costs.
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