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More Than Half of Americans Say Family Skimped on Medical Care Because of Cost in Past Year; Worries About Affordability and Availability of Care Rise
Date:2/24/2009

e (19%). But nearly as many -- 16 percent -- report putting off care for a more serious problem, either postponing a doctor's visit related to a chronic illness such as diabetes or delaying major or minor surgery.

Not all medical care can be postponed, however, and the survey indicates that roughly one in five (19%) people experienced serious financial problems recently due to family medical bills. Specifically, 13 percent say they have used up all or most of their savings trying to pay off high medical bills in the past 12 months, and just as many say their medical debt means they have difficulty paying other bills. A similar proportion (12%) say they have been contacted by a collection agency, while a smaller share (7%) report being unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat or housing.

Beyond actual financial hardship due to medical care, the survey also indicates a rise in worries associated with health care costs. Nearly half of Americans (45%) report they are "very" worried about having to pay more for their health care or health insurance, the highest proportion measured in Kaiser polls since late 2006. Roughly four in 10 (38%) are very worried about affording health care they need -- a number that rises to 56 percent among those who believe someone in their household will lose a job this year.

Fully one-third (34%) of those with health coverage are worried they will lose it. While these concerns are prevalent among low-income Americans, one-third of households earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year are also "very worried" about losing their health care benefits.

Support for Action on Health Care Reform Strong, But High Expectations Pose Challenge

The share of Americans who say that the country's economic problems make it more important than ever to take on health care reform has remained remarkably stable over the past five months at roughly s
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SOURCE Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
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