Home / Health / Articles / How many people skip medical treatment due to healthcare costs?

In 2022, 28% of American adults skipped some form of medical treatment because of cost, according to the Federal Reserve. This is lower than the 32% documented in 2013, when data collection began, but is the third-highest year on record.

The probability of declining or avoiding medical care correlated with income: 38% of people with a family income under $25,000 skipped medical treatment in 2022, compared to 11% of people with incomes of $100,000 or more.

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How many Americans are uninsured?

In 2022, 26.4 million — 8% of Americans[1]did not have health insurance. Among adults ages 19 and older, 8.9% did not have health insurance. High costs mean out-of-pocket healthcare expenses can be challenging for uninsured adults; in 2022, 23% of adults had an unexpected medical expense costing between $1,000 and $1,999. That same year, 16% of adults reported having debt resulting either from their own medical care, or a family member’s.

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What kind of medical care do people skip most frequently due to costs?

In 2022, people skipped dental care most frequently, with 21% of American adults forgoing treatment. This was followed by doctor visits (16%), prescription medicine (10%), follow-up care (10%), and mental health or counseling visits (10%).

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Does having health insurance reduce the probability of skipping medical care?

In 2022, 42% of American adults without health insurance skipped medical treatment because they couldn’t afford it, compared with 26% of American adults with health insurance. The Department of Health and Human Services also found that uninsured adults are less likely to have a primary care provider, which also leaves them unable to access recommended medications and preventative screenings.

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Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022
Last updated
May 2023
American Community Survey

Refers to "civilian, noninstitutionalized population." All U.S. civilians not residing in institutional group quarters facilities such as correctional institutions, juvenile facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and other long-term care living arrangements.