ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Internet Program Helps Problem Drinkers
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
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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