Health concerns are increasingly financial concerns, according to a new industry report that shows Americans – particularly the elderly - are cutting back on medicines and doctor visits.
At the same time Americans are reducing their use of medical services, they are expressing higher levels of concern over the financial impacts of health care. These health concerns loom large for even the wealthiest investors, according to new research from Millionaire Corner.
Economic concerns are likely driving the decline in doctor office visits and non-emergency room hospital admissions, according to a report released yesterday by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The Parsippany, NJ-based institute researches and analyzes the health care industry.
The apparent rationing of medical care is a “troubling” trend that began in 2009, Michael Kleinrock, director, Research Development, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said in a prepared statement.
“The implications of fewer doctor visits and lower drug utilization on patients’ health have yet to play out and require further study,” said Kleinrock.
The number of office visits declined 4.7 percent in 2011, while retail prescription usage fell an average of 1.1 percent in the same period, the institute reported. Seniors age 65 and over reduced their use of prescription drugs by 3.1 percent last year, cutting back most notably on drugs to treat high blood pressure. Seniors spend a disproportionately large share of their household budgets on health care and are most sensitive to increases in costs. According to the latest federal data, health care costs are rising at an annual rate of 4.7 percent, well above the overall inflation rate.
Health concerns account for three of the top five personal financial concerns expressed by high net worth investors surveyed in a Millionaire Corner study completed in the first quarter of 2012. The degree of concern also appears to be on the rise for high net worth investors, those with investable assets of $5 million to $25 million.
About 60 percent of these affluent investors are worried about the financial impacts of their own health issues, compared to the 56 percent who expressed similar concerns in the first quarter of 2011, according to our study. Sixty-five percent listed the health of a spouse as a personal financial concern, compared to 59 percent last year.
Nearly half – 49 percent – said they were worried about the financial impact of a family health catastrophe, according to our study. The other two financial concerns ranking with health concerns among high net worth investors are worries about the financial situations of their children and grandchildren, and concerns with maintaining their current financial situation.