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Poll: Texans skip, delay medical care as affordability, access worsens

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Roz Brown

(Texas News Service) More than half of those who responded to a new Texas health care poll said it is becoming more difficult to afford, and the number of those who do not have a primary care doctor is alarmingly high.

The annual Episcopal Health Foundation survey showed health care affordability and access is a growing crisis in Texas.

Brian Sasser, chief communications officer for foundation, said the number of Texans who said they cannot afford to see a doctor when they are sick is on the rise.

"In the five years we've been doing the poll, this is the highest level," Sasser pointed out. "Almost seven out of 10 say they've skipped or postponed some sort of treatment or care because of cost."

Sasser noted another 40 percent said they have had difficulty paying a medical bill. For Texans younger than 65, 66 percent said they do not have a primary care provider. He added those with chronic medical conditions or poor health are more likely to face nonmedical issues such as unaffordable housing, limited access to healthy food and no place to exercise.

After waiting to see if their condition improves, many who are uninsured seek out an emergency room when they are sick, even though early detection or diagnosis often leads to better outcomes. The poll found 42 percent of Texans skipped a recommended medical test or treatment and 35 percent did not get a prescription filled due to the costs.

"There's even documentation during the pandemic when people did not seek care, delayed care because of concerns about getting COVID or whatever, that 60 percent of those people who delayed care got worse," Sasser emphasized.

Similar to other states, hundreds of thousands of Texans were stripped of pandemic-mandated Medicaid coverage this year, and Sasser worries affordability and access to health care will have deteriorated even more by 2024.