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A stunning indictment of the U.S. health-care system, in one chart


(Washington Post) – One quarter of American adults say they or a family member has put off treatment for a serious medical condition because of cost, according to data released this week by Gallup. That number is the highest it’s been in nearly three decades of Gallup polling.

An additional 8 percent have made the same choice for less serious ailments, the survey showed. That means a collective 33 percent of those polled have prioritized financial considerations over their health, tying the high set in 2014.

The report also shows a growing income gap in cost-related delays. In 2016, for instance, one-fourth of U.S. households earning less than $40,000 a year reported cost-related delays, vs. 13 percent for households making more than $100,000. In 2019, the rate of cost-related delays among poorer households shot up to 36 percent, while the rate for the richer group remained at 13 percent.

Gallup cautions that the Trump presidency may be influencing these numbers on a partisan level: From 2018 to 2019, the share of Democrats reporting cost-related delays for serious conditions jumped from 22 percent to 34 percent. Among Republicans, the year-over-year increase was more subdued, from 12 percent to 15 percent.

Gallup data also show Democrats (31 percent) self-report higher rates of preexisting conditions than Republicans (22 percent).

“Whether these gaps are indicative of real differences in the severity of medical and financial problems faced by Democrats compared with Republicans or Democrats’ greater propensity to perceive problems in these areas isn’t entirely clear,” according to Gallup’s Lydia Saad. “But it’s notable that the partisan gap on putting off care for serious medical treatment is currently the widest it’s been in two decades.”

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