Residents of Pennsylvania's South Central/Lehigh Valley region experienced healthcare affordability burdens at rates similar to the other regions of Pennsylvania. All told, about half (47%) of the region's adults experienced one or more of the following healthcare affordability burdens in the prior 12 months.
Fully one-third (37%) of South Central/Lehigh Valley 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 report:
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 dental care, doctor bills and prescription drugs, likely reflecting the frequency with which South Central/Lehigh Valley region adults seek these services—or, in the case of dental, lower rates of coverage for these services.
One-third (32%) of adults in the South Central/Lehigh Valley region experienced one or more of these struggles to pay their medical bills:
Residents of the South Central/Lehigh Valley region also exhibited high levels of worry about affording healthcare in the future. In descending order, respondents were “worried” or “very worried” about: costs when elderly (67%); affording nursing home and home care services (67%); cost of a serious illness or accident (65%); health insurance becoming too expensive (63%); prescription drug costs (56%); and losing health insurance (40%).
South Central/Lehigh Valley region residents were extremely dissatisfied with the health system: Just 24% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “We have a great healthcare system in the U.S.,” while 77% agreed or strongly agreed “the system needs to change.”
Respondents endorsed a wide range of strategies to tackle healthcare affordability. They identified personal actions they could take, including:
But in far greater numbers they see a role for their elected representatives. Strategies typically received support across party lines, including (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 Pennsylvania Residents Struggle to Afford High Healthcare Costs: Support a Range of Government Solutions Across Party Lines, Data Brief No. 15 (October 2018). Available at www.HealthcareValueHub.org/PA-2018-Healthcare-Survey.