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As Out-Of-Pocket Health Costs Rise, Insured Adults Are Seeking Less Primary Care

NPR writes of results of a big study recently published in Annals of Internal Medicine: Adults with commercial health insurance are visiting primary care providers less often than they did about a decade ago. Using data from an insurer that provides health coverage to about 20 million people per year across the United States, researchers found that visits to primary care providers made by adults under the age of 65 had dropped by nearly 25% from 2008 to 2016. Adults who went at least a year without a single visit to a primary care provider increased from about 38% to 46% in that period.

The study found people with low incomes and younger people had especially large decreases, but the drop in primary care visits showed up across all age groups and income levels. Evidence points toward rising out-of-pocket costs as a factor to the decline. The average out-of-pocket cost for a visit to the doctor related to a health problem rose from about $30 to nearly $40 during the study period.

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