One in three Americans has put off seeking medical treatment in 2014 due to high costs, according to Gallup — the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 2001.
Thirty-three percent of Americans have delayed medical treatment for themselves or their families because of the costs they’d have to pay, according to the survey. Obamacare, of course, had promised that it would help make health care more affordable for everyone, but the number of people who can’t afford a trip to the doctor has actually risen three points since 2013, before most Obamacare provisions took effect.
The hardest-hit: the middle-class. Americans with an annual household income of between $30,000 and $75,000 began delaying medical care over costs more in 2014, up to 38 percent in 2014 from 33 percent last year; among households that earn above $75,000, 28 percent delayed care this year, compared to just 17 percent last year.
The lowest-income section, some of whom can take part in Medicaid and who are more likely to qualify for significant premium and cost-sharing subsidies on an Obamacare exchange, are less likely to delay care this year. Now, 35 percent of those who earn under $30,000 a year are putting off seeking medical care, down from 43 percent last year.
It’s a remarkable shift: after Obamacare’s redistribution of wealth, the middle class is actually delaying medical care due to high costs at a higher rate than the poorest section of the country, which is highly subsidized by taxpayers.
The growing problem could have serious consequences for the middle-class. Twice as many people (22 percent) have delayed treatment for serious illnesses than than for smaller problems (11 percent).
Part of the problem is an ongoing shift towards higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, while health insurance premiums continue to rise all the same. The trend, which existed to some extent before Obamacare, increased in intensity with the onset of the health-care law. (RELATED: 4 Of 5 Companies May Hike Deductibles Due To Obamacare)
Some health policy experts argue that the trend helps cut down on wasteful health care spending. But those who already had health coverage, in many cases, are seeing their deductibles go up along with their premiums, making it more difficult than ever to afford medical care itself, on top of now-mandatory medical insurance.
Gallup’s results corroborate what many Obamacare supporters have confirmed about the health-care law: while it’s named the Affordable Care Act, its purpose was to increase the number of Americans with health insurance, not to make it more affordable for everyone.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, admitted this week that congressional Democrats should not have passed Obamacare in 2010 because it didn’t benefit most of the middle class. (RELATED: Chuck Schumer: We Shouldn’t Have Passed Obamacare In 2010)