Press of Atlantic City

Survey Claims New Jersey Health Care Costs Prevent Treatment For Many

Press of Atlantic City — Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By DEREK HARPER

TRENTON — A health care advocacy group found that more than three quarters of the uninsured families in the state delayed health care over the last year because of cost, while another 46.4 percent went without medical care because of cost or lack of insurance.

The group's survey, by the state branch of the national Community Voices for Coverage healthcare project, also found that 13 percent of the families it surveyed had medical debt from unpaid healthcare bills, while 54 percent of people with chronic conditions delayed care for cost or lack of insurance.

The findings come from 646 families that took part in 41 family budget focus groups around the state between September 2008 and April 2009 with religious congregations, social services, advocacy organizations, health care providers and civic groups. The report, "Making Health Care Affordable for New Jersey" was released on Tuesday.

With the national healthcare debate in Washington D.C., organizer Eve Weissman of New Jersey Citizen Action said "It is imperative the congress adequately defines what affordable really means for families in New Jersey and across the country. If millions of Americans still cannot afford coverage after health care reform is enacted, this effort will not fix our broken health care system."

The Consumer Voices for Coverage advocated for guaranteed access to affordable, comprehensive care for everyone regardless of ability to pay, immigration status or health condition. It also sought improved healthcare quality, shared responsibility between all parties, reduced overhead costs and an emphasis on preventive care.

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