The recession is rough on everyone’s finances. But it also has an impact on our health. According to two national surveys and health experts people are reacting to tough times by skipping check-ups with the doctor, the gym, and other preventative care.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the American Heart Association conducted the surveys. Besides skipping doctor visits and the gym, people are buying cheaper packaged meals, which often translates into high-sodium, high-fat food.
One of the more startling findings was almost 90 percent of 600 family doctors surveyed said that their patients expressed concerns about paying their bills. This is especially intriguing since people usually don’t consult their doctors about their financial situation.
The American Heart Association surveyed 1,000 people:
- 32 percent had delayed preventative care, skipped doctor’s appointments, or stopped taking medication to save money.
- 25 percent with gym memberships had canceled them in the past six months.
- 42 percent planned to buy fewer fruits and vegetables.
The American Academy of Family Physicians surveyed their members and found:
- 66 percent said they were reducing fees to cut patient costs or making other arrangements to help people pay. Others said they’d increased charity care or moved patients to cheaper, generic drugs.
- 54 percent reported seeing fewer total patients since January 2008, which is about when the recession began.
- 73 percent reported an increase in uninsured patients.
- 64 percent reported a drop in patients with employer-sponsored health insurance.
“I have personal knowledge of a 45-year-old male with underlying heart disease that he knew about who was also diabetic,” says AAFP President Ted Epperly, MD. “Because he lost his health insurance when he lost his job, he stopped taking his diabetes medicine, it got out of control, he had a heart attack and he died.”