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Thumbs Down: More people are delaying health care

Dec. 25, 2012 @ 09:25 PM

Health care spending in the United States was about $2.6 trillion in 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That is more than 10 times the $256 billion the country spent in 1980. While those numbers are too large for most of us to comprehend, we do understand the rising cost of health insurance, and those increases are staggering, too.

The average cost of employer-sponsored family coverage is now $15,745 a year, up from $8,003 just 10 years ago. Fortunately for employees, companies still foot the bill for about 72 percent of that. But workers have seen their contributions double during the same period from $2,137 a year to $4,316.

But these costs are affecting our health as well as our pocketbook.

A new Gallop poll shows that 32 percent of Americans said they have had to put off medical care for themselves or their family in the past year because of the cost. That is the highest percentage since the polling company started asking the question in 2001, when the response was about 19 percent.

That survey includes people who have insurance. When you break out those who do not have insurance, the percentage who have delayed care rises to more than 50 percent.

Also troubling is the finding that a large share of these delays involve serious conditions.

These statistics are just another reminder that it will take more than expanding insurance rolls to keep health care affordable. Better management of chronic diseases, healthier lifestyles, and steamlined administration will all be needed to bring health care costs down.

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