Poll shows health care costs are a burden for many Kentuckians

A recent statewide survey shows health-care costs are a burden for many Kentuckians, especially for those who are poor and don’t have insurance and put off getting care they need because they can’t afford it.

More than 60 percent of Kentucky adults in the poll said high costs forced them or a family member living in their home to delay getting care in the past year. Not surprisingly, almost 90 percent of uninsured respondents reported going completely without care in the past year.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll also showed that 48 percent have relied on home remedies when they are sick instead of going to a doctor, 43 percent have postponed care they needed, 37 percent have not filled a prescription or skipped a dental visit or checkup, 36 percent skipped a recommended medical test or treatment, and 16 percent have cut pills in half or skipped doses of medicine for financial reasons. Overall, 64 percent answered “yes” to at least one of those questions.

“Although our economy is improving, many Kentucky families are still struggling financially. Our research shows healthcare costs have a significant impact on Kentuckians’ actions,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsored the poll. “Timely access to quality, affordable healthcare is important to restore and maintain Kentuckians’ health and productivity. When we delay or go without care, illness severity and costs can escalate. Based on the KHIP results, many Kentuckians are taking risks with their overall health because of the expense.”

Rising costs of health care do not affect all Kentuckians in the same way; almost 40 percent of Kentucky adults reported that paying for health care and health insurance is not a financial burden. Those who did say costs were a burden said they were burdened equally by the costs of doctor visits, prescription drugs and insurance premiums or deductibles.

The poll was funded by the foundation and the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. The poll was conducted Sept. 20 and Oct. 14 of last year by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,680 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or 2.5 points.

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