80 million victims of sickeningly high medical costs
Nearly half of working-age Americans are avoiding doctors or skipping medications because of the spiraling expense.
By Aimee Picchi 6 hours ago
That's supported by a new study from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance survey, which found that an astonishing 80 million Americans -- or 43% of working-age adults -- last year skipped going to the doctor or snubbed medicine because of cost.
That represents a 27% jump since just a decade ago, when 63 million people said they went without medical care because of cost. Even worse, it's not only the uninsured who are cutting corners on their own health because of high prices, the study said.
About 28% of people with private health insurance reported avoiding treatment because of the price, an eye-opening statistic about skyrocketing rates.
"Costs of health care have gone up faster than wages," David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, told CNNMoney.
The study comes on the heels of a scathing article published in the journal Blood, which questioned the astronomical cost of leukemia drugs, with some pharmaceutical companies charging more than $100,000 for a year's dose. Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA +0.55%), for one, introduced a $138,000 annual treatment, the study said.
"We believe the unsustainable drug prices … may be causing harm to patients," the study said. "Grateful patients may have become the 'financial victims' of the treatment success, having to pay the high price annually to stay alive."
That is, if they have insurance and deep pockets that allow them to cover the costs.
Regardless of income, one-fifth of Americans ask their doctors to prescribe a lower-cost medication, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published earlier this month. As I wrote for MSN moneyNOW, that leads to more emergency room visits and other health crises for people unwilling or unable to pay for treatment.
Because of the high costs, medical debt is becoming a burden to U.S. consumers, the Commonwealth survey found. Last year, 41% of working-age adults had problems paying medical bills. About one in five were contacted by a collection agency over unpaid bills.
One positive aspect was noted in the report: More young adults are now covered by insurance, likely because of Obamacare, which goes into effect next year. About 41% of working-age adults between 19 to 25 went without insurance last year, down from 48% in 2010, the survey found. '