CDC: Americans report better care access

By National Underwriter

National Underwriter


By Allison Bell

The recent slowdown in U.S. health care and health insurance cost increases may have translated into an improvement in access to health care.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published figures raising that possibility in a summary of results from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Who missed out on health care because of concerns about cost?
Did not received medical care due to cost
Delayed medical care due to cost
2011
2010
2007
2011
2010
2007
Less than $35,000
13.3
13.2
12.1
16.2
15.8
14.5
$35,000 or more
3.7
4.5
3.6
5.9
7
5.4
$35,000-$49,999
7.8
8.8
6.9
10.5
12.3
9.1
$50,000-$74,999
4.8
5.6
4.2
7.8
8.6
6.8
$75,000-$99,999
2.3
3
2.6
4.6
5.1
4.3
$100,000 or more
1
1.5
1.3
2.4
3.5
2.2
Source: National Health Interview Survey date for 2007, 2010 and 2011.

In each NHIS family income category but the category for families earning less than $35,000 per year, participants reported having less cost-related trouble getting medical care in 2011 than in 2010.

Similarly, in each income category other than the $34,999-and-under category, participants reported that they were less likely to delay getting medical care due to cost in 2011 than in 2010.

In the category for participants with family incomes of $75,000 to $99,999, for example, only 4.6 percent said they had delayed getting medical care due to cost in 2011, down from 5.1 percent the year before. The percentage of participants with moderately high incomes who went without care altogether in 2011 fell to 2.3 percent, from 3 percent.

In the $100,000-and-over category, the percentage of participants who put off getting care due to cost concerns fell to 2.4 percent, from 3.5 percent, and the percentage who went without care dropped to 1 percent, from 1.5 percent.

Comparisons of the 2011 figures with 2007 figures produce a different picture.

Even members of the highest income families were more likely to report having cost-related delays in getting medical care in 2011 than in 2007, and members in all in categories but the $75,000-$99,999 category and the $100,000-and-over category said they were less likely to get care in 2011 than in 2007 because of concerns about cost.

In the $100,000-and-over category, the percentage of participants who said they failed to get care at all because of cost concerns fell to 1 percent in 2011, from 1.3 percent in 2007, but the percentage who put off getting care because of cost concerns rose to 2.4 percent, from 2.2 percent.

Although some high-income Americans put off getting care or fail to get care because of cost, high-income people tend to have a much easier time getting care than low-income people do, the CDC researchers said in their report.

"Persons in the lowest income group were about 13 times as likely as persons in the highest income group to not get needed medical care due to cost and about 7 times as likely to delay seeking medical care," the researchers said.

The interview sample for the 2011 NHIS included U.S. 40,496 families with a total of 101,875 family members.

The sample included only civilians living outside institutions. The sample excluded nursing homes and other long-term care (LTC) facilities.

Originally published on LifeHealthPro.com