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07 February 2014

Economic downturn – fewer visits to the doctor

A study shows that North Americans' and Europeans' use of health care is limited by finances, and reductions in personal incomes caused by the economic downturn have reduced their use of health care.

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North Americans and Europeans have become less likely to make routine visits to the doctor due to economic woes, according to a new study.

Researchers surveyed more than 2 100 Americans and more than 1000 people each in Canada, France, Germany and Great Britain. The participants, aged 18 to 65, were asked about their use of health care services after 2007.

Respondents' use of health care is limited by finances, the study showed, and reductions in personal incomes caused by the economic downturn have reduced their use of health care.

Routine medical care

This was especially true for Americans. The researchers found that about 27% of Americans had reduced their use of routine medical care since 2007, compared with about 6 percent of Canadians, 8% of Britons, 10% of Germans and 12% of people in France.

Because the United States doesn't have universal health care, it's not surprising that fewer Americans are seeking routine care, the researchers said. They noted, however, that even in nations with more inclusive health care, additional costs for items such as prescription drugs are making people less likely to get routine care.

"The global economic crisis weakened national economies and household finances globally," researcher Dr. Annamaria Lusardi, of George Washington University, said in a journal news release. "These economic conditions can have effects in many areas, including health."


Read more:
Why routine health checks are important
Should I visit the doctor?

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