Doctor visits dropping, new Census figures show

From the New York Times:

Americans of working age are going to the doctor less frequently than they were 10 years ago, according to a new report by the Census Bureau.

In 2010, people age 18 to 64 made an average of 3.9 visits to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, down from 4.8 visits in 2001, said the report, which was released on Monday.

The precise reasons for the decline were unclear, said Brett O’Hara, an official at the Census Bureau and a co-author of the report. But the changing demographics of the American population most likely had something to do with it.

As baby boomers retire, for example, they leave a working-age population that is on average younger and that tends to use less health care. Still, that is likely to be only a small part of the explanation, as the baby boomers began to move into retirement only at the end of the report’s period, about two years ago.

Another possible reason for the decline in doctor visits, Mr. O’Hara said, is that the share of uninsured working-age people has expanded over the past decade. People without insurance are less likely to visit a doctor, said the report, which was based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a long-running survey of more than 80,000 households. The share of working-age Americans without health insurance was 21.8 percent in 2010, according to the Census Bureau, up from 17 percent in 2001.

To read the complete story, click here.

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