Recession Health Care

Today’s newspapers bring more evidence that the recession is causing substantial changes in the health care delivery system – which is not as “recession-proof” as some believed.  The Los Angeles Times  reports that mammography, colonoscopy, and dental screening are down.  This American Life  reports that dentists are seeing many cracked teeth – reflecting a lot of tooth-gnashing.  The Wall Street Journalreports that patients are not filling 6.8% of brand name prescriptions and 4.1% of generic prescriptions.


Factors that lead patients to be more likely to skip care which is recommended, according to a study by the California HealthCare Foundation:

1)      Those in worse health (fair or worse health reported skipping preventive care for financial reasons 47% of the time, compared to 26% of those who reported their health as good or better)

2)      Poorer folks (51% of those earning under $20k reported skipping preventive care, compared to 34% between $20 and $50K, and 21% for those with over $50K in family income)

3)      Hispanics (46% compared to 25% for whites)

4)      Uninsured (66% compared to 27% for those with insurance)

I expect in the future high deductible health plans will also be a reason why patients fail to follow through on their physicians’ recommendations in the future. Aetna had a recent press release touting high rates of preventive care and low overall costs , and there was a glowing article about Cigna’s high deductible health planin this month’s Managed Care Magazine.   I’ll be blogging more on this data in the coming days.