National trend reflected locally of people deliberately delaying care

More Americans are reporting that they’re putting off seeing a doctor for health issues.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 7:11 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - More Americans are reporting that they’re putting off seeing a doctor for health issues. This sometimes includes visits concerning serious conditions. A Gallup poll released this week found 40% of adults are waiting to seek care, a record for the poll. The situation in the Wichita area reflects the national trend, local health professionals report.

GraceMed Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julie Elder said it’s an accurate picture of what she sees.

“To me, it says they’re putting money in other places,” she said. You know, they’ve got other needs, other expenses that are trumping their healthcare. Here at GraceMed, we’ve seen that for quite a while.

But waiting to take care of your health, Dr. Elder said, can have a long-term effect, Dr. Elder said.

“I always think of the Benjamin Franklin quote that says, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ and it’s very true when it comes to our healthcare,” she said.

She said a lot of conditions can be identified early or when they’re small, and that helps prevent complications or serious problems.

“I even see patients with maybe a glucose that’s (higher than) normal and if we can identify early before it crosses the threshold of diabetes or even pre-diabetes, we can prevent significant problems down the road, even with just some education or lifestyle modifications,” Dr. Elder said.

She said the goal of community health centers or Federally Qualified Health Centers like GraceMed is to make sure people have access to healthcare that isn’t cost prohibitive.

“A lot of what we do for uninsured folks is based on a sliding scale, and it’s according to their financial need. And so we also have other programs that help offset the cost of medications, of specialty care,” Dr. Elder said.

Her advice when it comes to individual healthcare is when in doubt, get it checked out.

“I’d rather a patient come in and something turn out to be nothing than they think it’s nothing and it really is a something,” she said.

Dr. Elder encourages people to check in with their doctors at least once per year.