According to a survey of New York adults conducted from Dec. 20, 2018 to Jan. 2, 2019, residents of Upstate New York experienced healthcare affordability burdens at high rates, but not as high as the New York City Boroughs. All told, nearly half (45%) of adults in Upstate New York 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 Foregoing Healthcare Due to Cost
Well over one-third (39%) of Upstate New York 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 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.
3) Many Who Received Care Struggle to Pay the Resulting Medical Bill
One-quarter (25%) of Upstate New York adults experienced one or more of these struggles to pay their medical bills:
High Levels of Worry About Affording Healthcare in the Future
Residents of Upstate New York also exhibited high levels of worry about affording healthcare in the future. In descending order, respondents were “worried” or “very worried” about: affording nursing home and home care services (66%); cost of a serious illness or accident (60%); costs when elderly (60%); health insurance becoming too expensive (58%); prescription drug costs (52%); and losing health insurance (37%).
Dissatisfaction with the Health System and Support for Change
Upstate New York residents were not satisfied with the health system. Just 27% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “We have a great health care system in the U.S.,” while 74% 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 drug beforehand (40%), as well as actions they should be taking—58% 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 of residents’ affordability burden can help assess whether or not progress is being made.
Note: For survey methodology and state-wide data, see https://healthcarevaluehub.org/New-York-2019-Healthcare-Survey