10 Healthcare Changes Caused by the Economy

Older Americans are cutting back on their healthcare because of the recession, an AARP survey finds, with 20 percent saying they have health problems caused by financial stress and about a sixth saying healthcare cutbacks have adversely affected their health.

The AARP-sponsored study surveyed adults 45 and older and asked them whether they had recently made any of 10 economy-related changes in their healthcare activities. Here’s what they said:

51% said they had taken a generic or over-the-counter medication instead of a prescribed branded drug;

  • 22% have delayed seeing a doctor or other medical professional;
  • 21% have cut back on their nonhealth expenses to be able to afford medical care;
  • 21% have sought assistance in getting prescribed medications at lower cost;
  • 16% have cut back on preventive care activities, such as flu shots or annual screenings;
  • 16% have had to dip into retirement accounts or other savings to pay for healthcare;
  • 15% have either skipped doses of their prescribed medications or taken less than the prescribed dose;
  • 14% have decided not to fill a prescription at all;
  • 14% have cut back on their medical care;
  • 11% have asked a drug maker or their pharmacy about prescription-assistance programs.

Lower-income Americans are more likely to have cut back on their health spending, said study author Teresa Keenan. People above 65 were more inclined to seek out drug-assistance programs, while those ages 45 to 54 are more likely to have cut back on medical care. There was little difference between men and women, although women were more likely to have replaced a branded prescription drug with an over-the-counter or generic medicine.

The research was done for AARP by International Communications Research, which surveyed 820 people in October; its findings have a 3 percent error range.   By Philip Moeller


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