Recession and Healthcare Spending


To determine how a recession affects the healthcare consumer spending and habits in the US. This may include statistics, insights, news publications and demographic analyses that indicate whether US consumers reduce primary or elective care procedures during recessions.

Early Findings

How Recession Affects US Consumer Healthcare Spending/Habits

  • During the 2009 recession, consumer healthcare spending grew at a historically low rate. This was evident in the decrease of private healthcare insurance spending as some 6.4 million Americans lost their coverage, representing a 3.2% decline in enrolments.
  • According to expert analysts at PwC, the 2008/2009 recession had immediate and long term effects. Patients had to bear more financial responsibility for their healthcare, which resulted from loss of coverge, the rise of high deductible health plans, increased premiums and others.
  • The effects of the 2008/2009 recession led to the delay of healthcare procedures by patients, especially elective procedures such as surgeries.
  • The effects of recession on the healthcare sector become apparent later than in most other sectors, and it takes longer for it to bounce back.
  • As unemployment rates resulting from job losses rise during recessions, more people loose their employer-sponsored health insurance and begin to change their healthcare habits.
  • According to a 2009 survey by The American Academy of Family Physicains (AAFP) to assess the effects of recession on consumer healthcare, 58% of physicians reported an increase in appointment cancelations, 60% reported that they had seen more healthcare problems caused by their patients decision to forgo needed preventive care.
  • According to the AAFP survey, some patients cancelled or deferred important preventive screenings such as pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies, in order to save cost. Others failed to return to their physicians for recommended follow-up visits, or refill important medications for chronic conditions, all to reduce costs.
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