Health Care Spending Takes a Hit

American Osteopathic Association Survey Shows People Are Cutting Back on Visits to Physicians and Other Health Care Providers to Save Money

CHICAGO, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Making due without the latest fashions and preparing meals at home are among the ways people have reduced their spending since the recession began. But a recent survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) found more than half of respondents have considered their budgets first before making health care decisions.

Three in 10 respondents have skipped or reduced annual visits to their primary care physician or other health care provider as a way to save money.

Rob Danoff, DO, an AOA board-certified osteopathic family physician practicing in Philadelphia, realizes cutting back on expenses might be necessary for people to remain fiscally fit. However, he stresses these decisions should not come at the expense of one's health as there are many ways to maintain and improve health, even with our challenging economy.

"Annual and follow-up visits to your primary care physician should never be cut from your budget. Even if you don't feel sick, the routine screenings conducted during physical examinations can help detect the warning signs of heart disease or other illnesses," explains Dr. Danoff. "Armed with this knowledge, your physician can work with you to help prevent an illness before it starts and follow-up visits for ongoing or treated health concerns are important to ensure your personalized treatment plan is working."

If people are struggling financially, Dr. Danoff encourages them to speak with their physician about alternative options for treatment, such as the availability of free samples of medication being prescribed, reduced fees or even locations of free health clinics.

"Your physician also can recommend lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet and exercising, which can help prevent or better control costly chronic diseases like diabetes later on," Dr. Danoff adds.

Savvy Patient Checklist
The AOA created a Savvy Patient Checklist to encourage patients to make their health a priority, even when they're on a budget. The checklist features questions people can ask their:

  • Physician, such as the availability of generic alternatives to prescribed medications.
  • Insurance provider, such as the availability of discounts for wellness programs.
  • Employer, such as how to determine which insurance plan is most cost-effective for their situation.

The checklist also includes resources people can utilize to stay healthy, including health calculators, food and exercise logs, and potential sources to obtain health insurance.

Other survey results of note:

  • One in three respondents is cutting back on health care spending by skipping or reducing follow-up visits to primary care physicians or health care providers.
  • One in four respondents reported skipping or reducing visits to specialists that were recommended by their primary care physician or health care provider.
  • One in five respondents is trying to reduce their spending on health care. Respondents who have been negatively affected by the economy were twice as likely to reduce spending on health care.
  • More than one-quarter of respondents are seeking alternative or free sources of health care.
  • Respondents whose health has been negatively affected by the economy were almost four times as likely as those whose health has not been affected to report skipping or reducing imaging tests to save money.
  • Furthermore, women were more likely than men to report skipping or reducing imaging tests—including mammograms— to save money.

Additionally, respondents younger than age 60 were about twice as likely as those 60 or older to cut back on health care services as a way to save money, including:

  • Skipping or reducing bloodwork or lab tests.
  • Skipping or reducing physical therapy visits.
  • Reducing or changing their health care coverage.

About the Survey
The survey was conducted from March 30 to April 2, 2012. A total of 1,069 respondents completed the online survey. A sample size of 1,069 has a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.0 % at the 95 % confidence level.

About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.

SOURCE American Osteopathic Association



RELATED LINKS
http://www.osteopathic.org

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