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According to a survey of Virginia adults conducted from March 12 to April 2, 2019, residents of the Northern Region experienced the fewest healthcare affordability burdens in Virginia, although still high. All told, 2 out of 5 (41%) Northern Region adults experienced one or more of the following healthcare affordability burdens in the prior 12 months.
1) Being Uninsured Due to High Premium Costs
2) Delaying or Forgoing Healthcare Due to Cost
More than a third (35%) of Northern Region adults who needed healthcare during the year encountered one or more cost related barriers to getting that care. In descending order of frequency, they reported:
Moreover, cost was by far the most frequently cited reason for not getting needed medical care, exceeding a host of other barriers like transportation, difficulty getting an appointment, lack of childcare, and other reasons. Of the various types of medical bills, the ones most frequently associated with an affordability barrier were doctor bills and dental bills.
3) Struggling to Pay Their Medical Bill When They Received Care
In the prior 12 months, one out of five (20%) Northern Region adults experienced one or more of these struggles to pay their medical bills:
Despite having lower healthcare affordability burdens than other parts of Virginia, residents of the Northern Region report high levels of healthcare affordability worry. Two-thirds (68%) of respondents reported being “worried” or “very worried” about one or more of these topics: affording nursing home and home care services (55%); health insurance becoming too expensive (54%); costs when elderly (54%); cost of a serious illness or accident (50%); prescription drug costs (37%); and losing health insurance (27%).
Residents in the Northern Region of Virginia were extremely dissatisfied with the health system. Just 33% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “We have a great health care system in the U.S.,” while 75% agreed or strongly agreed with “the system needs to change.”
Respondents do see a role for themselves in solving problems. They reported actions they have already taken, like researching the cost of a drug beforehand (59%), as well as actions they should be taking—61% believe that taking better care of their personal health is one of the top things they can do personally to address affordability.
But in far greater numbers they saw a role for their elected representatives. Examples of strategies that received support across party lines included (Total/Republican/Democrat/Neither):
The high burden of healthcare affordability along with high levels of support for change suggest that elected leaders and other stakeholders need to make addressing the cost of healthcare a top priority. Annual surveys can help assess whether or not progress is being made.
Note: For survey methodology and state-wide data, see https://www.healthcarevaluehub.org/Virginia-2019-Healthcare-Survey