ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
FITNESS
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
U.S. Prepares for Possible Return of Swine Flu in Fall
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- More than three-quarters of adult Americans who have health insurance say they still worry about paying more for their medical care, and nearly 50 percent say they're "very" or "extremely" worried about the issue, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll shows.

More than half (57 percent) of those polled said they feared losing their health insurance sometime in the future, which may explain another key finding in the poll -- sizeable numbers of Americans said they're skipping doctor visits or not getting prescriptions filled to save money.

Middle-aged Americans -- people too old to be blasť about their health but too young to be covered by Medicare -- seemed most worried about paying their health care bills. Among insured individuals aged 45 to 64, a full 84 percent said they were concerned that rising health care costs would exceed their ability to pay.

Only 8 percent of all insured Americans polled were "not at all worried" about getting health care coverage.

"Many are, in fact, not filling prescriptions, skipping a doctor's visit, not following up on something that was recommended by the doctor, taking a medication less or pill-splitting, doing without dental care," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll.

He added that with the economy in a tailspin and many Americans losing their employer-based health insurance, the problem may only get worse. "If the number of uninsured rises sharply, one would expect to see these numbers increase," Taylor said.

One consumer advocate wasn't surprised by the results of the poll, which included 2,078 adults surveyed between Feb. 25 and 27.

"Even for people who have insurance, increasingly, the costs have been shifted to them -- and those costs have risen," said Carol Pryor, policy director at The Access Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to making health care available to more Americans. More and more, she added, insured Americans are paying higher deductibles and co-pays, stretching their ability to get proper medical care.

Pryor agreed with Taylor that the situation is only likely to get worse, since "more people are becoming uninsured as a result of the economic meltdown."

Some other key findings from the poll:

* 78 percent of adults with health insurance worry about paying more for their medical care.
* Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of all insured adults say they're worried about how they can afford to pay for medical care and prescription drugs, with that number rising to 76 percent among people aged 45 to 54. Even among those aged 65 and over -- most of whom are eligible for Medicare -- 62 percent say they worry about paying for the care they need.
* Over the past year, one in five insured adults skipped filling a prescription because of the cost. That number jumped to 30 percent for those without insurance.
* Similarly, cost concerns led 24 percent of the insured and 51 percent of the uninsured to forgo seeing a doctor for a specific medical problem. Twenty-one percent of the insured and 33 percent of the uninsured didn't get a recommended follow-up test or treatment for the same reason.
* Trying to cut down on medical expenses, 14 percent of the insured and 19 percent of the uninsured took a medication at a lower dose than that recommended by a doctor.
* Dental care took the biggest hit: 51 percent of the uninsured and 30 percent of the insured skipped necessary dental care over the past year due to financial concerns.

Forgoing care to save costs over the short term may not save costs over the long term, the experts warned. "Some things do go away on their own over time," Pryor said. "But there are a lot of conditions that get worse if they aren't treated, and they then require more expensive care later. So it's definitely a gamble."

Taylor noted that the statistics on the percentage of Americans skipping needed care have remained about the same since 2007, when Harris first asked these types of questions. That may seem odd given the recent downturn in the economy, he added. But, he noted that even if a few million Americans lose their health insurance, that's still only 2 percent of the adult population -- not enough to show up in this type of survey.

The new poll results come on the heels of a report released Wednesday by the nonprofit advocacy group Families USA. It found that a third of Americans under the age of 65 -- nearly 87 million people -- went without health care coverage at some point over the past two years.

The most recent U.S. government statistics suggest that 16 percent of all adults (including those 65 and older) have no health insurance. And a Commonwealth Fund report published last June found that the number of "underinsured" -- people who have insurance that doesn't fully meet their health care needs -- rose by 60 percent between 2003 and 2007.

The issue gained momentum in the nation's capitol last Thursday, when President Barack Obama convened a long-anticipated White House summit on health care reform. The Associated Press reported that Obama made a point of bringing a wide range of views to the table -- voices representing the insurance industry, patient groups, physicians and even those advocating a single-payer system.

"Every voice has to be heard. Every idea must be considered," Obama said during the summit. "The status quo is the one option that is not on the table."

According to Pryor, one item that should be up for discussion in Washington is the plight of the underinsured.

"Covering the uninsured is only part of the problem," she said. "Unless reform includes adequate, comprehensive and affordable coverage, just having insurance will not be protection -- either from facing barriers to care or concern over one's financial stability. And after all, those two things are the function of insurance."

-E.J. Mundell

More information

There's more on the underinsured in America at The Commonwealth Fund.



SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman, The Harris Poll, Rochester, N.Y.; Carol Pryor, policy director, The Access Project, Boston; March 5, 2009, Associated Press, March 9, 2009, Harris Interactive/HealthDay Poll

Last Updated: March 09, 2009

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