Tight Budgets Pinch Health Care Spending

As consumers prioritize, medical expenses lose out
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2008 1:54 PM CDT
Walgreen's pharmacists are reaching out personally to customers, encouraging them to think of their offspring when deciding to forgo prescriptions.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Yet another casualty of the recession could wind up being an irreplaceable one: Americans' health. Consumers are increasingly skipping doctor visits and skimping on prescription meds, the Wall Street Journal reports. "It's hard to get people to follow up when they're having to decide between the gas bill, the electric bill or deciding to come in and see the doctor," says a Tennessee GP.

The whole industry is feeling the crunch. Even those who have health insurance are forgoing some expenses to avoid hefty copayments, and labs note a steep drop-off in requests for blood tests. But the biggest risks are the long-term dangers. Says an analyst: "Once you've had that heart attack and end up in the hospital, that's when the expensive stuff begins."