Residents of eastern Kentucky experienced healthcare affordability burdens at rates that exceeded the other regions of Kentucky. These affordability burdens take many forms.
More than half (59%) of eastern Kentucky 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:
Moreover, cost was far and away 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 adults in eastern Kentucky seek these services—or, in the case of dental, lower rates of coverage for these services.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of adults in eastern Kentucky experienced one or more of these struggles to pay their medical bills:
Residents of eastern Kentucky also exhibit high levels of worry about affording healthcare in the future. In decending order respondents were “worried” or “very worried” about: the cost of a serious illness or accident (77%); affording care when elderly (74%); prescription drug costs (71%); health insurance becoming too expensive (67%); affording nursing home and home care services (67%); and losing health insurance (52%).
Eastern Kentucky residents are extremely dissatisfied with the health system: Just 18% agree or strongly agree with the statement “We have a great healthcare system in the U.S.,” while 75% agree or strongly agree “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 bipartisan support, 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 should make addressing this need a top priority. Annual surveys can help assess whether or not progress is being made.
Note: For survey methodology and state-wide data, see Kentucky Residents Struggle to Afford High Healthcare Costs: Express Bipartisan Support for a Range of Government Solutions, Data Brief No. 7 (May 2018). Available at www.HealthcareValueHub.org/KY-2018-Healthcare-Poll.