Health Care Increasingly Out of Reach for Millions of Americans

The above headline comes from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) on May 8, 2012 in an article by Phil Galewitz. The article starts off by noting, “Tens of millions of adults under 65 – both those with insurance and those without – saw their access to health care dramatically worsen over the past decade.” This article, and several others on the same subject were based on a study published in the May, 2012 edition of Health Affairs by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.

On the Robert Woods Foundation website, the study authors begin by noting, “This paper’s analysis of national survey estimates found that access to health care and use of health services for adults ages 19–64, the primary targets of the Affordable Care Act, deteriorated between 2000 and 2010, particularly among those who were uninsured. More than half of uninsured U.S. adults did not see a doctor in 2010, and only slightly more than a quarter of these adults were seen by a dentist.”

According to the study and the AJC article, people are making many of their health decisions based on their ability to afford the care themselves. In a May 8, 2012 article in the Orange County Register, Genevieve M. Kenney, the study’s lead author, was quoted from a prepared statement as saying, “Our study shows that access to care deteriorated for adults in virtually every state in the country, and that the uninsured experience substantially worse access to care relative to the insured in all states. This indicates that the health care safety net is not acting as an effective substitute for health insurance coverage when it comes to providing basic health care to the uninsured.”

The AJC article also reports that even those with insurance are feeling the pinch as more of the cost of private insurance is falling to the employee in the form of higher deductibles and co-payments. This increased cost is affecting the decisions that people make about seeking care. In the state of Maine, it was estimated that 109,000 people went without needed care in 2012 because of costs, while in a larger state such as Pennsylvania, the number is estimated to be at 1.1 million. In California, the number was estimated to be much higher with approximately 20 percent of adults having a health care need unmet due to costs.

Dr Gary Walsemann, president of the International Chiropractors Association, offered a possible solution to the issue by pointing out that chiropractic has been an exception to the crisis of affordable access to health care. He commented, “One of the problems with health care as it is currently being delivered is that it is a monopoly for one system of care. Almost all funding, both governmental and private, goes to support only one approach to health care. This lack of an even playing field for choice in healthcare has led to a significant cost increase in medical care, thus alienating many people from being able to afford it. Chiropractic, which works with the body’s innate healing abilities, has been proven to be an effective and affordable choice. The scientific effectiveness and safety record of chiropractic speaks for itself. In many cases, even people without insurance find chiropractic well within their reach as a viable source of healthcare and wellness promotion. This example of successful cost savings, effective results and outstanding safety record should serve as an example for those discussing the future of healthcare management in both the private and public sectors.”

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