Americans Making Fewer Trips to the Doctor, Census Bureau Finds

In 2010, working-age adults made an average of 3.9 visits to medical providers, down from 4.8 in 2001, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

More Americans consider themselves to be healthy with nearly two in three reporting their health as being either “excellent” or “very good.” Another 24 percent said their health was “good,” while 8 percent described it as “fair” and 2 percent as “poor.” Non-Hispanic blacks were more likely to consider their health to be fair or poor (13 percent) than non-Hispanic whites (10 percent) or Hispanics (9 percent).

Other findings from the report:

• Respondents were much less likely to visit a dentist at least once in the last year than a medical provider: 59 percent compared with 73 percent.

• Medical provider visits become more likely with age, as 37 percent of young adults 18 to 24 did not visit a provider at all during the year, compared with 8 percent of those 65 and older.

• Hispanics were the least likely racial or ethnic group to see a medical provider, as 42 percent never visited one during the year.

• Women were more likely than men to have visited a medical provider during the year (78 percent compared with 67 percent).

• Spending a night in a hospital is a rare event: 92 percent of the population did not spend a night in a hospital during the previous year, and only 1 percent spent eight or more nights. The chances of spending no nights in the hospital ranged from 96 percent for children to 83 percent for people 65 and older.

• More than half of the population (57 percent) did not take prescription medication at any point during the previous year, while 35 percent reported taking it regularly.

• Although 80 percent of older adults (those 65 and older) reported regular prescription medication use, the same was true for 13 percent of children.

• In general, self-rated health declines with age: more than half of children are in excellent health (59 percent) compared with 9 percent of those 65 or older.

• Although adults with excellent health were less likely to visit a medical provider at least once than those with poor health (68 percent compared with 94 percent), the opposite was true for dental visits. Thirty-five percent of those in excellent health visited the dentist twice during the year, compared with 12 percent in poor health.

• Among uninsured adults who visited a medical provider or dentist during the year, 13 percent visited an emergency room and 10 percent visited a hospital (excluding the emergency room), while 20 percent received free services and 30 percent received a discount on services.

• In 2010, 21 percent of uninsured adults in poor health received routine check-ups, compared with 12 percent of all uninsured adults.

• People under 65 whose health was poor, fair, or good were more likely to be uninsured (23 percent, 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively) than those with very good or excellent health (20 percent and 16 percent, respectively).


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