Recent polls have shown that fewer people, particularly younger people, have been seeking regular preventive medical care. While this may seem like a problem only affecting the younger generations, the implications could be far-reaching and potentially incredibly damaging.
Younger Generations Skipping On Healthcare
According to a recent poll, fewer young people are actively seeking out potentially life-saving preventive care. This poll asked participants whether they had delayed, postponed, or canceled some sort of health service in the past three months. One in five said that they had, in fact, delayed services. This response varied by age; while only 8% of respondents 65 and older had delayed care due to cost, one-third of participants under 35 did.
This seems to suggest that many young people are intimidated by the cost of health care, despite most having health insurance to help with all or some of the cost of treatment. This keeps many young adults from seeking preventive care; while this may seem unimportant for a “young and healthy” population, this could spell bad news for the nation as a whole.
Potential Dangers For Young Adults
Despite the general perception that young adults are the demographic least in need of preventive care or serious medical assistance, this is not always the case, and in fact, this assumption can have devastating consequences for those who do need care. Between cost and the general assumption that young adults are by default healthy, many do not seek preventive care that could prevent serious complications.
For conditions that progress over longer periods of time, failure to seek care early can create longer-term problems that can go on to impact daily life as one ages. For an all too common and familiar example, consider arthritis: in all US states, one in 25 working-age adults (18-64 years old) face work limitations they attribute to arthritis. However, many avoid actively seeking care for this common condition, resulting in physical limitations and complications later in life. About 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their life, with much of this directly resulting from untreated early-onset joint problems.
In many cases, these situations could have been avoided with proper preventive care and screening. However, many young people are now avoiding this, meaning that we will likely see an increase in these sorts of conditions in years to come. Additionally, this mentality of avoiding screening can be incredibly dangerous for those who might not think of themselves as vulnerable to life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. As many as 23 million people have not been screened for colorectal cancer, many of them young adults who do not see themselves as vulnerable. A lack of preventive screening can keep young adults from accessing early interventions that could potentially be life-saving in these cases.
Threats To General Population
A lack of preventive care isn’t just a threat to younger generations; their avoidance of health care and treatment is a potential risk to the population at large. Each year, potentially preventable diseases are responsible for millions of premature deaths among Americans. While many of these are chronic conditions, a lack of health screening can present a huge risk of contagious disease as well. An average of 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to complications caused by the flu, a number that’s sure to grow if the current trend of avoiding health care continues.
Without preventive care being frequently used to promote health, prevent disease, and manage the health of communities throughout America, it is incredibly likely that this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. Preventive care is essential for the health of the general population, and without younger generations actively seeking care or going so far as to delay important treatment, the future overall health of the population is likely to suffer.