Can You Really Afford Not to See Your Doctor?
Tough economic times coupled with rising prices and interest rates have consumers cutting back spending on everything these days.
Unfortunately, that includes their health care.
The California Health Care Foundation and NORC, a nonpartisan research organization, conducted a statewide survey of Californians and found that nearly half of them (49%) reported that they had skipped or postponed some type of health care in the past year for financial reasons. Among those who postponed care, 47% reported that their condition worsened as a result.
The American Hospital Association similarly says in a new report that they are seeing sicker patients, beyond those infected with COVID-19, because some of those patients postponed going to their doctors or the hospital. As a result, those patients are now showing up in hospitals with more severe health complications. They require longer hospital stays, and that’s adding to financial difficulties.
NorthBay Health Chief Medical Officer Seth Kaufman, M.D., said Solano County is not immune to the problem.
“NorthBay is experiencing an unprecedented number of very sick patients, resulting in long hospital stays, with more needing Intensive Care Unit care,” he said.
Dr. Kaufman encourages patients to talk about their options with their primary care providers. “To support the wellness of our community, we do not want delays in lower cost routine care, which results in an even more expensive hospital stay,” he said.
“These are covered benefits and are our first line of defense for ensuring our patient populations stay healthy and do not require the more expensive services of the hospital,” she said. “Medicare, for example, offers a free ‘Welcome to Medicare’ for patients who have just joined, and ‘Annual Wellness Visits’ at no cost thereafter.”
Most health care plans include no-cost health screenings such as diabetes screenings, colorectal screenings, Blood pressure and cholesterol tests and immunizations, she added.
“These screenings help prevent disease and other illnesses or detect illness for early treatment,” she said.