Nearly 1 in 10 Americans Can’t Afford to See a Doctor
Our analysis of the most recent CDC data reveals how many people in the U.S. can’t afford to see a doctor when they need care. Learn about health care affordability in your state, and find out where minority populations and young adults are struggling the most.
- An average of 9.3% of people in each state recently needed to see a doctor but didn’t because they couldn’t afford it.
- Nearly 16% of residents of Texas and Georgia – roughly one in seven – recently needed to see a doctor but were unable to afford an appointment.
- In 18 states, at least 10% of the population was recently unable to afford a needed doctor’s appointment.
- 25 to 34-year-olds reported the highest rate of missing a doctor’s appointment due to costs compared to all age groups.
- Minorities showed a greater inability to afford a needed doctor’s appointment than Whites, with Hispanics and multiracial non-Hispanics displaying the highest rates in most states.
The costs of U.S. health care have risen for decades. And while inflation in health care comes with a number of wide-ranging consequences, at its core lies the essential concern: Can you afford to see a doctor when you need it?
The HelpAdvisor.com research team’s analysis of the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds a startling share of Americans cannot afford health care when they need it.
On average, 9.3% of residents in each state reported they recently needed to see a doctor but could not afford to do so.
In some states, more than 15% of the overall population reported needing to see a doctor at some point in the previous year but could not afford to do so.
An average of 9.3% of people in each state were recently unable to afford to see a doctor. In 18 states, at least 10% of the population was unable to afford a doctor’s visit.
The chart below shows the percentage of people in each state who reported needing to see a doctor in the 12 months prior to the study date but could not afford to do so.
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With Nevada as the lone exception, the states with at least 11% of the population reporting the inability to afford a doctor’s visit are in the south and southeast of the U.S. (Florida was the only state not reporting data.)
The highest concentration of states where fewer residents reported trouble affording a doctor’s appointment is in the north and northeast.
Our analysis of the CDC data finds those aged 25 to 34 have the highest rate of difficulty affording a doctor’s appointment.
In 36 states, it was 25 to 34-year-olds that reported the highest concentration of residents being unable to afford a doctor’s visit. In another eight states, it was 18 to 24-year-olds who had the most difficulty.
In all but one state (South Dakota, which had incomplete data), the 65-and-over age group had the lowest percentage of individuals who reported being unable to afford a doctor’s appointment.
Minorities were more likely to report being unable to afford a needed doctor’s appointment than Whites.
Only in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina and Washington did any minority group report an easier time affording a doctor’s appointment than non-Hispanic Whites.
In some states, certain minority groups reported especially high rates of inability to afford a doctor’s appointment.
- For example, 31.4% of multiracial non-Hispanics in Missouri reported being unable to recently afford a doctor’s appointment compared to 9.6% of non-Hispanic Whites and 11% of the total population.
- Hispanics reported the most difficulty affording a doctor’s appointment in Maryland, where a nation-leading 27.7% of the Hispanic population reported so.
- The highest rates of non-Hispanic Blacks reporting difficulty affording care were in Oklahoma (23.2%), Nebraska (22.1%) and North Dakota (21.4%).
The CDC measured the ability to afford a doctor’s appointment in 177 select metropolitan areas across the U.S. The four metro areas with the greatest inability to afford a doctor’s appointment were all found in Texas, and the state accounted for five of the top six metro areas overall.
The chart below shows the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest rates of inability to afford a doctor’s appointment.
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The data used for this report came from 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCD) Division of Population Health, the most recent data available.