Poll illustrates how having insurance and access to a health care provider doesn’t mean you can afford the care

Just because a person has appropriate access to a health care provider doesn’t mean they can afford to pay for their services, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

The poll found that three out of every four Kentuckians with health insurance now have access to a health-care provider, defined as a usual or appropriate source of care. However, it found that lower-income Kentuckians are choosing to forgo or skip medical care because they still can’t afford it. The poll found only about half of uninsured adults have a “typical and appropriate” health care provider.

The poll, taken Oct. 8-Nov. 6, found that 22 percent of Kentuckians said they or a family member needed health care in the past 12 months, but did not get care or delayed it because of cost. That was a decrease from 32 percent in 2009.

Not surprisingly, those with less money are more likely to forgo health care because they can’t afford it. The poll found almost one-third, or 32 percent, of people with household incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($32,913 for a family of four) said they were likely to defer medical care due to cost. That figure was 14 percent among people with incomes more than 200 percent of the poverty line.

As for those who did seek medical care, 31 percent reported they or a family member had difficulty paying the bill in the previous 12 months. Among those without insurance, 47 percent said they had trouble paying a medical bill in the past 12 months.

“Being able to afford needed medical care and having access to appropriate usual sources of care are two important challenges that may prevent a person from receiving care,” said Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsors the poll. “KHIP data indicate lower income Kentucky adults have to forgo treatment more often than their higher income neighbors and are more likely to have problems paying for their care.”

The poll is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati and is co -sponsored by Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It surveyed a random sample of 1,597 adults via landline and cell phone, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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