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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — In an age of cutbacks and downsizing, nearly half of all Americans are putting off their medical needs to weather a brutal U.S. economy, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The latest data from Consumer Reports shows 48 percent of all Americans are cutting back on medical costs by a number of potentially dangerous moves, including delaying visits to the doctor and ordering cheaper drugs from outside the U.S.
And while this trend has been steadily picking up since the recession first began in 2008, Consumer Reports’ Lisa Gill told KNX 1070 this time it may be different.
“Every year we’ve seen people cutting back, taking potentially some dangerous measures, but this year it’s up by nine percentage points,” said Gill. “That was by far the largest increase we’ve ever seen.”
But despite the grim outlook, Gill said there are a few steps consumers can take to make sure their wallet won’t affect their medical condition.
And according to Gill, it all starts at the doctor’s office.
“Doctors are not keeping pace with their patients’ economic situations or the economy for that matter,” she said. “I don’t want to use the word ‘oblivious’ but they’re not having a discussion about whether a person can pay for the medications.”
Gill recommends patients who are diagnosed with chronic long-term conditions to have a frank discussion with their physician over the potential costs of any medication.
Generic drugs are another way to significantly drop medical expenses, especially for the most common prescriptions like Lipitor, Plavix, and other popular drugs, Gill said.
Discount versions of these prescriptions are frequently on sale through $4 discount generic drug programs offered by stores like Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, Costco and others.
Have you altered your medical purchases or other treatments for financial reasons? Tell us why in the comments section below.