71% of Americans have cut household expenses as a result of the financial crisis in the U.S.,according to a new poll from BearingPoint, conducted by Zogby International.

Here is more evidence that personal and family health decisions aren’t made in a vacuum separate from other household financial decisions: they’re part and parcel of the kitchen table conversation in our homes.

The financial impacts have hit women relatively harder than men, and blacks and Hispanics somewhat harder than whites, according to BearingPoint’s data.

How the economic downturn impacts health behaviors varies by health issue, and who the treatment is for:
  • Nearly 19% delay or fail to seek preventive health services for themselves
  • 7.8% say they will switch to a health plan with lower premiums and less attractive benefits
  • 4.1% will drop their health insurance to save money
  • 8.4% say they take less than the prescribed dose of medicine to make it last longer
  • 14.2% delay to fill an Rx for themselves
  • Nearly 20% delay or fail to seek non-emergency treatment
  • 17.5% delay or fail to seek mental health services for themselves.

These numbers describe Americans approaches to their own health care. But for their kids, they’re much more generous:

  • 7.4% would delay or fail to get preventive services for their children, compared to 18.8% for themselves
  • 5.3% would likely delay or fail to seek emergency services for their kids vs. 18% for themselves
  • Only 2.5% would give their kids a lower dose of medication to make the script last longer, compared to 8.4% of their parents; only 2.2% would delay or fail to fill that prescription compared to 14.2% of adults who would postpone getting the drug.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: There’s more unemployment expected, and times at the mall look bleak, as today’s NY Times says, “Retailers report a sales collapse.” The Big Three are meeting with Nancy Pelosi to ask for $25 billion for immediate relief, and another $25 billion to meet health care costs.

BearingPoint tells us that 1 in 5 Americans is postponing preventive care for themselves. At the grocery stores, as a result of the economic downturn, consumers are grabbing less healthy foods from the shelves; organic grocers like Whole Foods are concerned about sales declines.

A new campaign from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota is reminding people to eat right. That’s a sound use of resources, so bravo! to the health plan for sending this message out at this time.

Let’s remind ourselves, our families, our friends and communities that health is an asset worth preserving — especially during economic hard times.

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