Millions of Americans Skip Medical Care, Even Though They Have Insurance
Policy + Politics

Millions of Americans Skip Medical Care, Even Though They Have Insurance

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Americans are voicing growing discontent with the quality and cost of their health insurance coverage.

Nearly one in three voters recently surveyed by Morning Consult said that their health insurance coverage has become worse in the past year, while just 15 percent said that it had improved.

Related: Obamacare Premiums Rising At Least 10 Percent Next Year

The survey, commissioned by the American College of Emergency Physicians and conducted among 2,016 registered voters Sept. 8-10, documented numerous other complaints about the health care system:

  • Fifty-five percent of those interviewed said they’re paying more for their insurance coverage than the previous year.
  • Twenty-four percent reported that they lost contact with their family physicians because they were out of network and too expensive to continue to use.
  • Perhaps most troubling, 25 percent said that a medical condition got worse after they delayed getting emergency medical care in the past year out of fear their health insurance wouldn’t cover the cost.

On that last point, Jay Kaplan, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in a statement on Tuesday that, "As a physician, it greatly concerns me that people are waiting until their medical conditions deteriorate to seek emergency care, which can have lifelong consequences.”

Kaplan said that insurance companies bear much of the blame for selling policies that force patients to cover so much of their own costs. “Many people … are shocked at how little their insurance pays,” he wrote.

Related: Obamacare’s Death Spiral of Consumer Choice

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people enrolled in high-deductible health care plans has increased by 40 percent over the past six years, since the enactment of Obamacare, and the deductibles are soaring.

Joseph Antos, a health care expert with the American Enterprise Institute, said on Tuesday that consumers are being swept up in an historic shift in the health insurance paradigm since the advent of Obamacare that is prompting many of the complaints.

“Certainly one of the major sources of consumer discontent is that their insurer can’t make a profit,” Antos said in an interview. “If their insurer can’t make a profit, the insurer is going to find ways to cut costs. That means tighter networks, that means higher deductibles and co-payments – all the sorts of things we would hope that insurance would cover … They can’t eliminate coverage for certain kinds of benefits, but they can certainly make it more expensive for the consumer.”