Senior patient looking through window at hospital

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More consumers in the U.S. postponed receiving medical treatment in 2022 than ever before because of the high cost of health care, a Gallup poll shows.

Overall, 38% of U.S. adults surveyed said that they or a family member put off any type of medical treatment in 2022 because of cost. The increase in patients delaying treatment is a jump of 12 percentage points from 2021, a record high and the biggest year-over-year increase Gallup has recorded in the 22 years it's conducted the annual survey.

Even more concerning is that 27% of respondents reported that they put off treatment for "very serious" or "somewhat serious" conditions, so it's not just patients skipping routine annual checkups. Meanwhile, 11% of respondents reported that they delayed treatment for "not very serious" or "not at all serious" conditions. 

Lower-income adults, younger adults, and women were more likely to report that they or a family member put off health care for a serious condition. In 2022, households with incomes of $40,000 or less were nearly twice as likely to delay medical treatment as households with incomes of $100,000 or more. Respondents with incomes of $40,000-$100,000 were almost as likely to delay treatment as the lower-income group.

Young and middle-aged adults were more likely than those 65 and older to put off treatment for a serious condition. Thirty-five percent of adults 18-49 reported that they had done so in 2022, a record high. Gallup attributes the discrepancy to the fact that patients 65 and over are covered by Medicare. 

GalleryThe Secret to Negotiating a Lower Medical Bill

When it comes to gender, women have historically put off medical treatment more often than men, and 2022 was no different. Women reported putting off treatment for serious conditions at a rate of 32%, a 12-percentage-point increase over 2021, while only 20% of men did, a jump of 5 percentage points.

With high inflation, a looming recession, and rising health care costs, even those who get health insurance through their employers are feeling like they can no longer afford medical care. It's no wonder that a record number of U.S. consumers are putting off going to the doctor or treating medical conditions — though they shouldn't have to. 

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