With everything getting more expensive, Americans are cutting corners in theirs lives by potentially shortening their lives, according to a Gallup poll conducted for a healthcare advocacy group.
An estimated 98 million Americans have put off healthcare as they struggle to afford food, gas, energy, and household items, West Health found.
The figure comes from the 38% of American adults who have either borrowed money to pay for healthcare or had to delay or skip treatment.
Those forced to sacrifice healthcare to afford basic things – driving, utilities, and food – were disproportionately among lower-income households. More than half of those making less than $48,000 a year had to cut healthcare spending, while even 20% of those making more than $180,000 were forced to cut back, too, according to the poll.
"People have been making tradeoffs to pay for healthcare for years," West Health President Timothy Lash wrote in a statement. "Inflation has only made things worse as people are also now struggling with the high price of gas, food, and electricity."
As the inflation rate was 9.1% in June at the time of the poll, healthcare inflation was at half that at 4.5%, and most Americans were unaware of the rising cost. Just 3% of adults believed inflation was going to raise the cost of their healthcare in the next six months, according to the poll.
It was gas (43%) and food (34%) that were far more apparent to consumers.
Still, 39% said they are "extremely concerned" or at least "concerned" about being unable to pay for healthcare in the next six months, including 33% of Democrats, 44% of Republicans, and 42% of independents.
"Inflation is hollowing out consumer spending habits across an array of areas," Gallup pollster Dan Witters wrote in a statement. "What is found just under the surface is that after gas and groceries, the role of inflation in reducing the pursuit of needed care is large and significant. And the rising cost of care itself, which is originating from an already elevated level, is having an outsized impact on lessening other forms of spending, compounding the problem."
The Gallup poll was conducted for West Health between June 2-16 among 3,001 adults living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error varied from 2.2 percentage points to plus or minus 4 percentage points for subgroups.
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