Story at a glance

  • New data suggests that 1 of every 7 Americans will forgo seeking health care due to concerns over cost, even during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Data suggests that low-income individuals are most affected by health cost worries.

New data suggests that 1 of every 7, or 14 percent, of U.S. adults report that they would avoid seeking treatment for potential coronavirus symptoms such as a fever or a dry cough out of concern over their ability to pay for it. 

A new survey conducted by Gallup and West Health finds that when researchers framed the question to specifically indicate respondents may be infected with the coronavirus, 9 percent still reported that they would avoid seeking medical treatment due to health care costs. 

Analyzed by several demographics, researchers found that nonwhite individuals were most likely to forgo health care due to concerns over paying for it, with 14 percent saying they would not seek medical care for a suspected coronavirus infection due to cost concerns compared to 6 percent white respondents. 

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Gallup also took a look at data on people who reported having been denied care due to a patient influx related to the pandemic. 

Some 6 percent of respondents, which represents approximately 15 million adults, have reported that they or a family member have been denied care due to a heavy patient volume resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Regionally, the Northeast posted the highest percentage of people who reportedly were denied care due to crowding issues, with 11 percent of respondents saying they or a family member were denied care. 


This coincides with New York and surrounding regions, such as New Jersey, being hotspots for the coronavirus. Additionally, 8 percent of nonwhite respondents report being denied care as a result of an overwhelmed health care facility as opposed to 6 percent of white respondents. 

Among annual household incomes, those netting less than $40,000 annually had the highest percent, 11 percent, who reported being denied care due to coronavirus patient overcrowding.

The implications of these results support data and reports that suggest low-income areas are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. While many insurance companies agreed to waive co-pays for scarce coronavirus testing, a trip to the hospital for coronavirus treatments could still result in expenses depending on the patient's insurance plans. 

"The seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic is multi-faceted. In addition to the threat of infection by the coronavirus itself, workers worldwide have lost their jobs, with many now suffering extreme economic hardship," Gallup researchers write.

"Compounding these effects is the cost of healthcare generally."

The survey was conducted results via telephone interviews conducted through April 1-14 with a random sample of 1,017 adults, living across all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error based on the entire sample is 3.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. 


 

Published on Apr 28, 2020