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Americans struggling to pay health care

AMERICANS are struggling to pay for health care in the ongoing economic recession, with a quarter saying they have had trouble in the past 12 months, according to a survey released yesterday.

Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 were most likely to discontinue medical treatments or services and were four times more likely than seniors to have trouble paying for health care services, said researchers at the Center for Healthcare Improvement.

The study found that 17.4 percent of households in the United States reported postponing or delaying health care over the past year.

Americans pay more per capita for health care than people in any other country, yet have high rates of infant mortality, diabetes, untreated heart disease and other conditions.

Gary Pickens, George Popa and colleagues at the Michigan-based center interviewed more than 6,000 people in March and April about job losses, what health care they had used and their plans for future treatment.

"April numbers showed a significant increase in the percentage of households in which a member had lost a job in the last three months (13.5 percent)," the researchers wrote.

In March, 11 percent said they had lost jobs, according to the survey.

"The percentage of households that had difficulty in paying for care in the last year was statistically unchanged between March and April (about 25 percent)," they said.

The researchers found that 40 percent of all US households planned to postpone care in the coming three months, with about 15 percent planning to put off routine doctor visits.


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