Health Care Costs Prompt Many Young People to Delay or Skip Care

Health care costs continue to rise in the US, and the problem is disproportionately affecting one segment of the population- young people old enough to not be covered by their parents, but who struggle to afford the rising costs of health care.

Health care costs are certainly ever-increasing as a financial issue faced by American families, and while a partisan debate over the reason rages, it seems a growing segment of the population finds care out of its reach.

A study by bipartisan organization the Commonwealth Fund has revealed in a report released today that health care cost is impacting young people at troubling rates. Fully 41% of young adults (defined as being between the ages of 19 and 29 for the purposes of the report) declined necessary health care in the 12-month period preceding the research due to health care costs.

When including uninsured young adults in that number, it rose to 60%. Among the behaviors noted in the study due to high health care costs, young adults were found to pass on filling prescriptions, skip recommended testing and treatments, avoid visits to the doctor and neglect to seek necessary specialist care when required.

Dr. Sara Collins is vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund and chief author of the survey. Collins explains:

“This reflects the high cost of medical care right now and health plans that may not cover people very well.”

Dr. Mark Fendrick, director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, was more straightforward, explaining:

“There’s no question that young people have cut back on high-value screenings, doctor visits and therapies… You twist your knee playing soccer and you go to get an MRI. But if the doctor says you have to pay 50% of the cost, you’re going to be less likely to go through with it.”

36% of young adults reporting in the survey explained that health care costs caused them to struggle to pay medical debts.