The 20 Most Common Reasons People Avoid Seeing a Doctor

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Annual health checkups are important to people’s long-term well-being and their ability to avert the onset of serious illness. Seeing a doctor as soon as symptoms show up is crucial to preventing a condition from getting worse.  Yet, many Americans avoid doctors for various reasons.

According to a 2021 survey, about 20% of Americans haven’t seen a medical professional in five years. And, according to a 2018 report, 40% of Americans skip a recommended medical test or treatment. An online survey from 2020 reported similar results.

To identify 20 reasons people don’t go to the doctor, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the study “Why do People Avoid Medical Care? A Qualitative Study Using National Data,” published by the Society of General Internal Medicine. 

There are three main categories of reasons people avoid medical care: fear of unfavorable evaluations, low perceived need for medical care, and high costs even for those with health insurance coverage. Perhaps it’s not surprising that healthcare and medical bills are the No. 1 reason people in America file for bankruptcy. (These are the 21 states where the most people don’t have health insurance.)

Over the years, people have had to pay more in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, and additional expenses. Between 2012 and 2017, average family premiums have increased 19% – slightly less than that 30% increase between 2007 and 2012, but an increase nevertheless.

Distrust, whether of doctors or of the healthcare system in general, and long wait times also played a big role in people’s decision to avoid making an appointment, according to the survey. The latter factor may be especially prevalent in the states with the longest ER waiting times in the U.S

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