Young adults forgo health care as medical debts rise

Millions of young adults are forgoing necessary care and treatment because of rising health care costs, a report said Friday.


In fact, 41% of young adults between age 19 and 29 failed to get medical care in a recent 12-month period because of cost, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey. Among uninsured adults, the number rose to 60%.


They are not filling prescriptions, skipping recommended tests or treatments, avoiding doctor visits and failing to get specialist care they need.


“This reflects the high cost of medical care right now and health pl ans that may not cover people very well,” said Dr. Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance at theCommonwealth Fund and chief author of the survey.


And doctors are noticing that young adults stop listening to medical advice once they hear the cost of treatment.


“There’s no question that young people have cut back on high-value screenings, doctor visits and therapies,” said Dr. Mark Fendrick, director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design.


“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,” Fendrick said.


Related: Why 20-somethings need health care reform


When young adults do get care, growing medical debt weighs heavily on them.


The survey found that 36% of 19-29 year olds reported problems paying medical bills or said they were paying off medical debt over time.

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And 43% of those who had medical debt said they used up all their savings to pay their bills; 33% took on credit card debt; and 32% were unable to pay off student loans or tuition payments.




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