The impact of rising health care costs, in 4 charts

August 9, 2022

In the last six months, higher health care costs drove 38% of U.S. adults—an estimated 98 million Americans—to delay or forgo health care treatments, cut back on routine expenses, or borrow money to cover their medical expenses, according to a new poll conducted by West Health and Gallup.

For the study, West Health and Gallup surveyed 3,001 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia between June 2 and June 16. In June, health care inflation was half the overall national inflation rate at 4.5%.

Overall, 38% of respondents said they had taken one or more measures to reduce household spending due to rising health care costs, including delaying or skipping medical care or medications, driving less, cutting utilities, skipping a meal, or borrowing money. Notably, 26% of people surveyed reported delaying or avoiding medical care or buying prescription drugs due to higher health care prices.

Respondents in households that earned less than $48,000 annually were even more likely to make financial trade-offs because of health care costs. For example, 62% of respondents from households earning less than $24,000 a year, and 51% of respondents from households with an annual income between $24,000 and $48,000 took steps to cut household spending.