June 22, 2024

Over a quarter of Americans said that they skipped some form of medical care in 2023 because they could not afford it, according to a new report from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The central bank said in its latest Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report that the likelihood of someone skipping medical care was strongly tied to their family income and health insurance coverage.

Every year since 2013 the Federal Reserve has been surveying Americans to gauge on how they are faring financially. This latest survey, designed to be nationally representative of adults 18 and older, was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2023 and involved 11,400 respondents.

According to the survey, despite 91% of American adults reporting having health insurance, about 27% of them went without some form of medical care because the cost was too expensive. This figure was about the same in 2022, but up from 24% in 2021.

The most commonly skipped medical treatment was dental care followed by seeing a doctor or specialist, prescription medicine, follow-up care, and mental health care.

The likelihood of skipping health care was closely tied to family income, according to the report. People whose family income was less than $25,000 accounted for 42% of people who said they skipped medical care due to costs, compared with the 12% of adults who said the same and were making $100,000 or more.

Among Americans that were uninsured, 46% said they skipped medical treatment because they couldn’t afford it, compared with the the 25% of American adults that were insured and had to do the same.

Unexpected expenses like a medical emergency can be a real hardship for American families. Only 63% of respondents said they could afford to pay an unxepected $400 expense with cash, savings, or a credit that they pay off in their next statement. The remaining 37% said they would have to borrow or sell something to cover the expense.

According to the survey, about 23% of adults in the United States said they had a major, unexpected medical expense in the past 12 months.

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