Sunday, June 21, 2009

Costs are keeping patients from care

People with robust health insurance are putting off doctors’ appointments and skimping on prescriptions because they can’t afford the increasing costs of copayments and deductibles, according to managers of patient-assistance hot lines in Massachusetts.
“Previously it was the uninsured,’’ Rukavina said. “Now we are seeing people with insurance, but they are struggling to pay their bills.’’

The problem appears particularly acute for people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, and cancer. They make frequent visits to doctors and often take multiple medications.

The issue has become so widespread that state lawmakers have scheduled a hearing Wednesday to address aspects of the problem, including a proposal to allow residents with chronic illnesses to buy prescribed medications and medical devices without facing a copayment or deductible.

As healthcare costs rise and the recession’s grip has tightened, more employers have slashed their health costs by shifting more costs onto their workers, according to Families USA, a Washington-based consumer group. As a result, more employees are shouldering heftier copayments.

Read more at The Boston Globe

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