Poll: A quarter of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents skip doctor visits and are behind on their medical bills

Nearly one-quarter of adults throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky did not always go to the doctor when they needed to during the past year, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer poll. And of those that did seek medical attention last year, a little more than one-quarter (27.5 percent) said they were not able to pay all of their medical bills. The results may not be all that surprising but do highlight health care costs’ impact on the average American.

“It’s very common to see people making decisions between food and medicine,” said Kate Keller, senior program officer at the local policy group the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

Local doctors say they’re seeing all sorts of ruses from patients to try to avoid even a $25 co-pay.

Rob Tracy, a family doctor at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Cold Spring (left, with patient Kathy Schneider), said some patients call and ask him to call in a prescription to the pharmacy without a visit. That allows them to avoid a co-pay on the office visit. He said delaying such visits only deepens the impact of chronic conditions and ups the costs when those patients are forced to local emergency rooms when their symptoms fail to improve. (Enquirer photo by Carrier Cochran)

Peale notes that these issues are intrinsically involved with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was cemented by President Barack Obama’s victory Tuesday. It is set to go into full effect in 2014.
“The law will help insure as many as 30 million more people by requiring every American to buy insurance or pay a penalty, requiring employers to offer benefits or pay a penalty, and requiring insurers to accept anyone who applies,” Peale writes. With the new law in place, the average person will likely be paying $4,775 out of pocket, including premiums and co-pays. (Read more)

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