ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Former Inmates at Increased Risk for High Blood Pressure
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
EYE CARE, VISION
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Add your Article

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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