May 23, 2023 - Economy

More Americans skipped the doctor last year because of costs

Data: Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals

The share of Americans who skipped medical treatment last year because of costs rose substantially from the lows of 2020 and 2021, per a Federal Reserve Survey out Monday.

Why it matters: The ability to afford health care often translates into better health.

  • The survey also found that in families with income less than $25,000, 75% reported being in good health, compared with 91% for those with income of $100,000 or more.

Zoom out: Inflation walloped Americans across income levels in 2022, causing many to cut back on spending  and that includes health care, an area people feel they can cut when times are tight.

  • The most commonly skipped form of medical treatment was the dentist, followed by seeing a doctor and paying for a prescription.
  • 35% of Americans said their financial situation was worse in 2022 than the year prior, per the survey. That's the largest share on record since the Fed started asking the question a decade ago, Axios' Courtenay Brown reported.

Context: Back in 2020 and 2021, a record low share of Americans skipped medical treatment due to cost, likely because they had more cash in their pockets thanks to COVID-era stimulus, as well as more access to health care — Medicaid coverage was also expanded in the pandemic.

What to watch: If the line on that chart rises more next year. Millions of Americans are expected to lose Medicaid access this year as the pandemic-related expansions end.

  • Those without insurance are twice as likely to skip treatment, the Fed survey found.
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