Rising costs have replaced pandemic concerns as the top reason Americans are delaying health care

PROVO, UT and SEATTLE-(BUSINESS WIRE). Between 2020 and 2022, the share of consumers postponing care due to pandemic-related health concerns fell 11 percentage points from 28% to 17%, while the share of consumers postponing care due to cost concerns has grown by four percentage points from 27% to 31%.

At a time of record inflation and an uncertain economy, more consumers are facing the need to make spending compromises. The high cost of health care (46%) and the higher cost of living in general (43%) are the most common reasons consumers choose to delay health care, ahead of reasons such as lack of health insurance (12%), according to the Qualtrics survey. In addition to delaying healthcare, over a quarter (26%) of consumers in the study chose not to fill a prescription in the past 12 months because of cost.

Nearly half (48%) of consumers said they put off the care they needed in 2020. In 2022, the number improved slightly to 43%. Nutritional care, routine checkups, and mental health care were the most common types of care people chose to skip. In addition, over a third (36%) of respondents said they had taken on debt to pay for health care. At the same time, 43% said they were unlikely to seek care if it meant taking on debt.

“If people can’t afford access to care in the first place, then not only do they have a poor experience, but we’ll never fully realize the health outcomes in our communities that we’re aiming for,” said Qualtrics Chief Medical Officer Dr. r. Adrien Boissy. “While it’s encouraging for people to feel more comfortable seeking the care they need, the cost barrier to care during these lean economic times is troubling. This reinforces the need to listen to our communities and provide access to the channels that work for the populations that need us This research further highlights the need to constantly listen with intent and design solutions with our patients.”

Avoiding health care worsens health conditions, which has implications for long-term care costs. A JAMA study found that medical debt has a direct link to the social determinants of health that are associated with worse patient outcomes. Medical debt is also linked to health care disparities, including the racial wealth gap and the racial health gap. Delaying care – including prior medications – will ultimately lead to worse patient outcomes and cost the healthcare industry more money in the long run. Improving healthcare accessibility is essential to improving patient experience and broader community health outcomes.


This study was conducted in August-September 2022. Respondents were drawn from a randomized pool and were considered eligible if they lived in the United States, were at least 18 years old, and worked full-time. The total number of respondents is over 1,000.

About Qualtrics XM for Healthcare

Qualtrics helps healthcare and life sciences organizations design experiences that improve satisfaction, loyalty and trust. Qualtrics helps organizations deliver a seamless and compassionate healthcare experience by optimizing the moments that matter most to patients, employees and communities. Qualtrics provides the most comprehensive platform for strategic experience management, helping healthcare organizations listen to patients and employees on their terms, uncover what matters most, and act quickly to create meaningful impact. In this way, experience data can be combined with qualitative, operational and financial data to express real value. AI-powered solutions help leaders understand the underlying drivers of patient and employee behavior, predict what they want, and automate actions that make it faster, easier, and more efficient to personalize experiences at scale. Qualtrics is a CMS-approved vendor for all required CAHPS programs and the only HITRUST-certified and FEDRAMP-compliant experience management platform on the market, so organizations can confidently collect and analyze data knowing that sensitive information is protected. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com/healthcare.

About Qualtrics

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core business experiences – customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations worldwide use Qualtrics to listen, understand and act on experience data (X-data™) – the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things happen and what to do about them. Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop revolutionary products that people love, and build a brand, to which people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.

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