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Healing or hurting? The impact of healthcare costs on patient well-being

Patients and medical professionals weigh in on healthcare affordability and how the economy can affect well-being.

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In a fresh year of economic flux, a persistent question emerges: How do financial ups and downs affect healthcare affordability and access? Tebra surveyed 800 Americans and 200 healthcare professionals to understand the real impact of these tough economic times on the decisions we make about our health. Beyond the struggles and the stress, we’ll also uncover how people are adapting and what they believe could help make healthcare more affordable. We'll explore the impact of 2024’s economy on healthcare costs, and access from the perspectives of both patients and professionals.

2024 healthcare perspectives: Navigating costs amid economic changes

Key takeaways

  • Over 1 in 3 people have avoided or delayed medical treatment this year due to cost.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 feel completely unprepared for unexpected medical expenses.
  • 1 in 4 healthcare professionals report significantly increased concern about healthcare costs due to the state of the economy.
  • The majority of healthcare professionals (77%) foresee increasing financial burdens on patients due to economic conditions.
  • 63% of healthcare professionals have noticed more patients skipping or delaying treatments because of costs.

Patients’ perspectives on healthcare cost challenges

Affording healthcare in the U.S. can be challenging when navigating economic hardships and inflation. Below, we explore how the economy impacts patient's medical care and what they think could help ease healthcare costs.

the economy's impact on healthcare

Cost concerns have led more than a third (36%) of individuals this year to either delay or entirely skip medical treatment, underscoring the ongoing U.S. healthcare crisis.

Anxiety over healthcare affordability in 2024 is also high, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of individuals worrying about paying for it this year. Among these respondents, over a quarter (27%) are grappling with extreme anxiety. Compounding these stressors, 40% of Americans report higher healthcare costs, and nearly 1 in 3 feel completely unprepared for an unexpected medical expense.

Due to the economy, over a quarter of people (26%) have tried home remedies or alternative medicines rather than seeking traditional medical care. About 1 in 5 reduced healthcare coverage or opted for telehealth visits, while over 1 in 10 chose a lower-cost provider.

The top 5 changes patients believe would make healthcare more affordable are:

  • Lower drug prices
  • Free healthcare
  • Transparent pricing
  • Cap on healthcare costs
  • More efficient healthcare system

Healthcare professionals’ perspectives on rising costs

Patients aren’t the only ones concerned about the rising healthcare cost — healthcare professionals also weighed in on how they’re adapting to economic pressures.

medical professionals perspective on healthcare costs

Within the healthcare community, economic shifts have raised alarms, with 1 in 4 professionals citing a surge in concerns over the cost of healthcare. Well over half (63%) have observed a rise in the number of patients bypassing or postponing treatments due to these financial hurdles. Healthcare professionals believe these top 5 changes are needed in the United States to make healthcare more affordable:

  • Drug pricing policies
  • Expanded insurance/benefits coverage
  • A universal healthcare system
  • Government funding
  • A focus on preventive care

Top challenges healthcare professionals anticipate due to economic conditions

  • Increasing financial burdens on patients (77%)
  • Navigating insurance and coverage complexities (65%)
  • Escalating costs of running a healthcare practice (55%)
  • Upholding high-quality care with limited resources (52%)
  • Adapting to technological advancements and limitations (19%)

Healthcare costs' future effect on patient outcomes

The economic currents of 2024 have made ripples across the healthcare industry, with patients and professionals alike navigating the waters of rising costs and accessibility challenges. The statistics speak volumes: a significant portion of individuals are delaying care due to expense, professionals are grappling with operational strains, and a collective unease about the future affordability of health services exists. The results are sobering: financial constraints impede the health of both patients and practitioners.

Methodology

Tebra surveyed 800 Americans and 200 healthcare professionals to explore their perspectives on how the economy impacts healthcare. The survey was conducted on January 24, 2024. 

About Tebra

In 2021, with a combined mission to unlock better healthcare, Kareo and PatientPop joined forces to form Tebra — a complete practice automation solution for independent healthcare providers. With an all-in-one, purpose-built platform to drive practice success and modernize every step of the patient journey, Tebra provides digital tools and support to deliver modern care and operate efficiently. To learn more about how Tebra is committed to improving patients’ and providers’ success and well-being, visit www.tebra.com.

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Andrea Curry, Head of Editorial at The Intake

Andrea Curry is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years of storytelling under her belt. She has won multiple awards for her work and is now the head of editorial at The Intake, where she puts her passion for helping independent healthcare practices into action.

Reviewed by

Nadene Evans

Nadene is a marketing expert with years of healthcare journalism under her belt, having researched and published medical content for NurseFly, Vivian Health and other healthcare provider publications. An advocate for independent providers, Nadene helps small practices promote their businesses through digital marketing and great content.

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