Americans – feeling poorer and dejected — are cutting health care out of their budgets for the first time in a decade. The article was in the Wall Street Journal this week.
Here’s a striking paragraph:
The number of prescriptions filled in the U.S. fell 0.5% in the first quarter and a steeper 1.97% in the second, compared with the same periods in 2007 — the first negative quarters in at least a decade, according to data from market researcher IMS Health. Despite an aging and growing U.S. population, the number of physician office visits also has been declining since the end of 2006. Between July 2007 and 2008, the most recent month for which data are available, visits fell 1.2%, according to IMS.
And that survey only counts the first six months of this year. I can only imagine how the numbers will slide after the economic mayhem of this quarter.
In a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners last month,
22% of 686 consumers said that economy-related woes were causing them to go
to the doctor less often. About 11% said they’ve scaled back on prescription
drugs to save money. Some of the areas being hit include hip and knee
replacements, mammograms, and visits to the emergency room, according to a
survey conducted by D2Hawkeye Inc., a Waltham, Mass., medical data analytics
firm, on behalf of The Wall Street Journal.
Unfortunately, health care reform will become a casualty of the current banking crisis at the national level, and has already become a casualty of state and local budget crises — at a time when public options for health care and more efficient, quality and affordable health care are needed most.