CDC: More Than 40M Americans Cannot Afford Needed Care
More than 40 million people in the U.S. said that they cannot afford adequate health care and that they did not receive needed health services because of costs, according to an annual report released by CDC on Monday, Reuters reports.
According to the report, in 2005, nearly "15 million adults did not obtain eyeglasses, 25 million did not get dental care, 19 million did not get needed prescribed medicine and 15 million did not get medical care due to costs" (Fox, Reuters, 12/3).
In addition, the report found that about 30% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 do not have a usual source of medical care, 30% lack health insurance and 10% of adults between the ages of 45 and 64 do not have a usual source of medical care. According to the report, one out of five adults younger than age 65 in 2005 said they were uninsured for at least part of the previous year and most said they were uninsured for more than 12 months.
The report also found that about one-third of children in families with incomes below the federal poverty level did not receive dental care in 2005, compared with fewer than one-fifth of children in higher-income families. Access barriers included regional physician shortages, lack of transportation to physicians and clinics, and shortages of organs for transplants.
The report also indicated some improvements in other areas of health care. About 87% of young children between 19 months and 35 months old in 2006 received immunization shots for bacterial meningitis, up from 41% in 2002. The percentage of adults with high cholesterol declined from 21% between 1988 and 1994 to 17%, according to the report. In addition, about 25% of adults in 2004 avoided seeking treatment for cavities, down from 50% in the early 1970s, the report found (Reinberg, HealthDay/Washington Post, 12/4).
"Mortality from heart disease, stroke and cancer has continued to decline in recent years," according to the report. Life expectancy was 77.8 years old for a baby born in 2004, the report found.
According to the report, "The United States spends more on health per capita than any other country, and health spending continues to increase. In 2005, national health care expenditures in the United States totaled $2 trillion, a 7% increase from 2004. Hospital spending, which accounts for 31% of national health expenditures, increased by 8% in 2005."
The report found that private insurance plans paid for 36% of total personal health care expenditures in 2005, while the federal government paid 34%, state and local governments paid 11%, and patients paid 15%. Prescription drug costs accounted for 10% of total health care spending in 2005 (Reuters, 12/3).
CDC Director Julie Gerberding in a prepared statement said, "There has been important progress made in many areas of health, such as increased life expectancy, and decreases in deaths from leading killers such as heart disease and cancer. But this report shows that access to health care is still an issue where we need improvement."
Report author Amy Bernstein, chief of the analytic studies branch at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, said, "People tend to equate access to care with insurance. But access to care is more than insurance." However, according to Bernstein, health insurance "is critical" to accessing care. She said, "We have a lot of evidence that people who don't have health insurance are much less likely to receive services than people who do" (HealthDay/Washington Post, 12/3).