Poll finds that 22 percent of Kentucky adults say they delay or forgo health care due to cost

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Two in 10 Kentucky adults continue to report that someone in their household has delayed or skipped needed medical care because of cost, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll. The survey found that such struggles are greatest for the poor, people with the poorest health, and those without health insurance.

The poll, taken from Sept. 11 to Oct. 19, found that 22 percent of Kentucky adults said that did not get the medical care they needed, or delayed care because of cost in the past 12 months. That figure has remained about the same since full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid in 2014. The differences from year to year were not statistically significant.

“Delaying care is not only dangerous for our residents, it is costly to the state,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsors the poll. “Kentuckians who delay care, for whatever reason, are more likely to end up in the emergency room for treatment that costs far more and could be less effective than treatment at an earlier stage.”

The poll found that Kentucky adults who reported fair or poor health were more likely to say someone in their household delayed or did without medical health care due to cost, compared to those who reported excellent or very good health, 33 percent and 17 percent respectively. The poll also reflects that Kentucky adults in poor health increasingly struggle paying for their medical care, up to 33 percent in 2016 from 28 percent the year before.

It also found that 34 percent of Kentucky adults who remain uninsured have someone in their household who has delayed or done without health care in the past 12 months due to cost. Among those with health insurance, the figure is 20 percent.

Kentucky’s uninsured rate dropped from from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 7.8 percent in 2016, a decline of 12.6 percent, according to Gallup.

The poll found Kentucky adults who were below 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($23,760 for an individual in 2016) were more likely to report that they delayed health care that those who earned more than this amount: 28 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

The poll was conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati for the foundation and Interact for Health, a Cincinnati-area foundation. It surveyed a random sample of 1,580 adults via landlines and cell phones and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The margin is larger for subsamples.

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