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September 26, 2021

Economy forcing consumers to make risky health tradeoffs: report

In times of economic dread, it’s no stretch that we’d compromise.

1160103_perscription_drugs_2 We’d compromise our wardrobes (when consumers stopped buying $300 premium jeans, for instance), we’d compromise our leisure time (when we had to kick pay porn out of the rotation) and we’d compromise our private jetting (when rich people had to, ick, learn to “jetpool”).

But one thing we wouldn’t compromise, darnit, was ourselves. Our health, above all, would be immune to the recession.

Make that “should.” According to a new poll from Consumer Reports, that’s just what we’ve been doing: stretching our health care dollars and making risky tradeoffs.

By the survey out of the U.S. (yes, we’ll address that in a second), nearly half of consumers (48 per cent) admitted to trimming costs in 2011 by putting off a doctor’s visit or medical procedure, or even ordering cheaper drugs from out-of-country pharmacies, an increase of nine percentage points from a year earlier.

*Bing: Can online pharmacies be trusted?

Further, 28 per cent of Americans that take medication have been resorting to, in the verbiage of Consumers Reports, “potentially dangerous actions.” For instance, 16 per cent said they had skipped filling a prescription, 13 per cent said they took an expired medication and 12 per cent skipped a schedule dosage without consulting their doctor or pharmacist.

Now, sure, this is an American poll, and even with Obamacare, health care – and associated health care costs – are different south of the border.

But in many regards, Canadian health care isn’t quite the oasis we make it out to be. Canucks are lucky they don’t have to sacrifice a doctor’s appointment or medical operation because of cash concerns, but where does that leave us on prescription drugs?

For those Canadians without employer-provided health insurance, guess who’s on the hook for pills: them. It stands to reason plenty of Canadians have likely skipped, or skimped on, prescription drugs as the economy’s tanked. Same goes, we’d imagine, for scheduled dental appointments.

Have you compromised your health care needs during the downturn, whether they be prescription drugs, dentist appointments or otherwise?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...