Nearly One in Five Americans Cannot Afford Health Care

Nearly one in five U.S. adults – more than 40 million people – report they do not have adequate access to the health care they need, according to the annual report on the nation’s health released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report is a compilation of more than 150 health tables prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The report also contained a special section focusing on access to care, which showed that nearly 20% of adults reported that they needed and did not receive one or more of these services in the past year – health care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses – because they could not afford them.

“There has been important progress made in many areas of health such as increased life expectancy and decreases in deaths from leading killers such as heart disease and cancer. But this report shows that access to health care is still an issue where we need improvement,” said CDC director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH.

In 2005, nearly one in 10 people between 18 and 64 years old said they were unable to get necessary prescription drugs during the past 12 months due to cost. Nearly 10% said they delayed receiving needed medical care.

Other major findings of the report included:

  • Young adults 18-24 years of age were more likely than children or older adults to lack a usual source of care and to be uninsured. About 30% of these young adults did not have a usual source of health care, and an equal percentage were uninsured.
  • One in 10 adults ages 45-64 years did not have a usual source of health care, and more than 5% of adults in this age group who had diagnosed high blood pressure, serious heart conditions or diabetes reported not having a usual source of medical care.
  • In 2005, one of five people under the age of 65 reported being uninsured for at least part of the 12 months prior to being interviewed. The majority of this group reported being uninsured for more than 12 months.
  • One in 10 women aged 45-64 years with income below the poverty level reported delaying medical care due to lack of transportation.
  • About one-third of all children living below the poverty level did not have a recent dental visit in 2005, compared with less than one-fifth of children with higher income.

The full report, Health, United States: 2007, is available at

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