Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fewer patient visits for doctors a sign of ill economy

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2009
By Diane Stafford | Kansas City Star

Doctors aren’t seeing as many patients these days. That doesn’t mean we’re healthier. It’s just another example of how hard economic times are blocking the door to health care for many.

The American Academy of Family Physicians said Tuesday that doctors report more canceled appointments and fewer preventive-care visits than before the recession began.

More than half of the 505 physicians who completed an online survey for the academy said their total patient count had dropped since January 2008.

“Patients are canceling or deferring important preventive screening such as Pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies,” said Ted Epperly, president of the Leawood-based physicians’ organization. “They’re also failing to return for recommended follow-up visits or refill medications that are vital to managing their chronic conditions.”

When the pocketbook choice is between food and housing or health care, food and housing usually win, Epperly said.

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