COVERAGE: Casualties of the Economic Recession
Preventive care is often the first casualty of the economic recession. As we've noted before, losing your job frequently means losing your health insurance. Even those with insurance often find the deductibles and co-pays so high that they're willing to skip all but the most necessary of medical care.
The LA Times chronicles this trend in California, where doctors across the health care spectrum have seen a cutback in the use of preventive services like cholesterol screenings, mammograms and colonoscopies.
Wednesday's article marshals an array of studies to prove its point. A survey released in March from the California Health Care Foundation 43 percent of people under 50 said they had delayed care for a chronic condition because of cost. Another study by the foundation found that those neglected care due to cost were more likely to end up in the emergency room. Of course, the problems aren't limited to California. Families USA released a report last month which found that 86.7 million people-one out of every three Americans under the age of 65-was uninsured for some period of time during 2007 and 2008 (Read our coverage here). Families followed up the national report by releasing state-specific findings. For a comprehensive guide to the status and future of health care in America, check out New America's interactive mapping tool: The State of State Health.
All of these findings, of course, only strengthen the case for health reform and drive home the reasons why health insurance matters. In 2007, our economy lost as much as $207 billion because of the poor health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured. While Congress is on break, such findings should remind lawmakers that the status quo is broken and the cost of doing nothing is growing.