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Poll: Almost A Third Of Americans Avoid Treatment Due To Costs

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A doctor wears a stethoscope during an examination. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A doctor wears a stethoscope during an examination. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – A recent poll suggests that 30 percent of Americans avoid seeking medical treatment due to concerns over costs.

Among uninsured Americans specifically, the rate of delaying medical treatment is even higher. Fifty-nine percent of that subset of the population have done so, researchers at Gallup have found.

“Additionally, younger Americans aged 18 to 29 and lower-income Americans – two groups that are the least likely to have health coverage – are significantly more likely to have put off treatment than their older and higher-income counterparts,” a release on the study’s findings noted.

Researchers found that people were even more likely to delay treatment for serious medical conditions.

Those involved in the study feel that Americans signing up for insurance to avoid paying a fine – a provision of the Affordable Care Act – could lower the amount of people who wind up putting off medical care.

“If the Affordable Care Act – which is designed to ensure that all Americans have affordable health coverage – works as intended, fewer Americans should need to put off getting necessary medical treatment because of cost,” the release stated. “This could positively affect individuals’ personal health situations and workplace productivity.”

It added, “At the same time, the possible uptick in the number of Americans seeking medical treatment may put additional strain on the healthcare system, creating new problems.”

Most health care news as of late has centered around improvements on Healthcare.gov, the online marketplace for health insurance at the center of the Affordable Care Act.

Counselors helping people use the federal government’s online health exchange are giving mixed reviews to the updated site, with some zipping through the application process while others are facing the same old sputters and even crashes.

The Obama administration had promised a vastly improved shopping experience on healthcare.gov by the end of November.

More than 1 million people visited the site Monday, Dec. 2 and 380,000 browsed the site by noon Tuesday, Dec. 3. Thanks to the technology fixes, response times had dropped to 1 second and error rates were under 1 percent, according to figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The system has been stable all day,” CMS communications director Julie Bataille said last Tuesday, stressing they were still continually updating the site.

Despite the Obama administration’s team of technicians working around the clock, it’s not clear if the site will be able to handle the surge of applicants expected by the Dec. 23 deadline to enroll for coverage starting at the beginning of the year. Many navigators also say they’re concerned the bad publicity plaguing the troubled website will prevent people from giving the system another try.

The Gallup Poll was conducted early last month and involved a sampling of 1,039 American adults.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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