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Report Finds Health Care Costs Remain a Major Concern for American Families

SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 -- The rising cost of health care continues to be a challenge for many American families, according to a report released Thursday.

The survey of 1,531 adults, released by USA Today, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard School of Public Health, found that nearly one-fourth of Americans have had problems paying medical bills in the past year, even though 61 percent of those people were covered by health insurance.

Eighteen percent of Americans say health care costs are their biggest monthly expense, excluding rent or mortgage payments.

Almost one-third of adults reported that they or someone in their household skipped medical treatment, cut pills, or did not fill a prescription in the past year because of the high cost. Sixteen percent surveyed tried to buy insurance on their own, but only one-third of those were able to do so. About three-quarters of those who did not purchase insurance said the main reason was the cost.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of respondents said they have a chronic condition such as heart disease, cancer, asthma or diabetes. Of these people with chronic health conditions, almost 40 percent report they or someone in their household has skipped medical treatment because of the cost.

In addition, 35 percent said their doctor has never explained the costs associated with recommended medical procedures.

About 40 percent of Americans say they are very worried they will not be able to pay for medical costs when they are elderly.

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