More people are delaying medical treatment because of costs

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With inflation at its highest level in decades, a growing number of Americans are delaying important medical treatments because of the costs, recent surveys find.

Here are some key findings from a 2022 Gallup poll and a 2022 survey by The Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • 38% of Americans said they or a family member delayed or went without medical care because of financial reasons, according to Gallup — up 12 percentage points from 2021 and the highest in the 22 years Gallup has been tracking the trend.
  • Of that group, 27% say the medical treatment they put off was for a “very” or “somewhat serious” condition.
  • 41% of Kaiser survey respondents reported having medical debt owed to credit card companies, collections agencies, family and friends, banks and other lenders.

We’ll take a closer look at how people are coping with the cost of medical care, who has been most affected and tips to help lower your medical costs.

Key takeaway: About 40% of Americans say they or a family member skipped medical care in 2022 because of cost concerns, recent polls found.

Difficulty affording medical costs

Young adults and those in lower-income households were most likely to report that they or a family member had delayed medical treatment.

What to know

  • Doing without — People are most likely to put off dental care, vision services and visits to a doctor’s office, the Kaiser survey found.
  • Prescription woes — About a quarter of adults say they or family member in their household have left a prescription unfilled, cut pills in half or skipped doses of medicine because of the cost, according to Kaiser.
  • Income plays a role — Americans with household incomes under $40,000 were almost twice as likely as those making $100,000 or more to report that they or a family member delayed care for a serious medical condition, according to the Gallup survey.
  • Age factor — Among adults ages 18 to 49, 35% said they or someone in their family delayed care, Gallup said. Meanwhile, 25% of those ages 50 to 64 and 13% of those 65 and older reported putting off care.

Steps to lower your healthcare costs

When patients skip preventive care and screenings, they risk allowing existing conditions to worsen even if they may have been easier and more affordable to treat if detected earlier.

What you can do

  • Reach out for help with costs. There are a number of charitable organizations that can assist with healthcare costs. offers assistance to qualified patients for copays, premiums, deductibles and over-the-counter medications.
  • Shop for prescriptions. Use reputable online sites for medication price comparisons.
  • Get help paying medical bills. If you need help, you may be able to work out a payment plan with your healthcare provider, negotiate the amount you owe, or qualify for a financial assistance program.
  • Consider free assistance. The Patient Advocate Foundation can help you understand and negotiate your medical bills, free of charge. It also offers a copay relief program. Contact the organization at 800-532-5274.
  • Seek free and low-cost options. If you can’t afford a health plan and don’t qualify for coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, you can find low-cost treatment at a community health center by visiting

About the author: Brad Hanson is a senior editor at Credit Karma. His 30 years of experience in print and digital media includes work for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, and Polyvore. Most recently before… Read more.