(FRANKFORT, Ky - April 28, 2020) The cost of health care and medication remained a problem for hundreds of thousands of Kentucky adults in 2019, according to the Kentucky Health Issues Poll. Although the percentage of Kentucky adults who delayed or skipped doctor visits or did not fill a prescription because of the cost has declined in the past decade, those most affected tend to have lower incomes and are more likely to have poorer health.

"For our neighbors who already live on low incomes, delaying needed care and medication can significantly reduce their chances of a quick, full recovery from health issues, and that's even more apparent during this pandemic as so many Kentuckinas have lost both their jobs and their employer health insurance," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "New public and private measures being taken to ensure that Kentuckians get the care they need during the pandemic - including eliminating out-of-pocket costs for testing and treatment - are critical to helping prevent the spread of virus and ensuring as many patients as possible can fully recover."

The Foundation sponsors the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) in partnership with Interact for Health. KHIP is an annual telephone poll that asks Kentucky adults about health and health care policy issues. This poll was conducted last fall, prior to the onset of COVID-19; the poll interviewed a random sample of 1,559 Kentucky adults in the fall of 2019.

According to KHIP, one in five Kentucky adults said they or a member of their household delayed needed medical care and one in four did not fill a prescription because of the cost. Among adults living on low incomes in 2019, 29 percent delayed medical care and 38 percent skipped prescriptions.
The high rates of poverty and poor health in Kentucky makes access to health care a pressing issue. Just four in 10 Kentucky adults said their health was excellent or very good; among those living in lower-income households, that dropped to three in 10, compared to half of higher-income households.

KHIP also found that the proportion of Kentucky adults ages 18 to 64 without health insurance, which declined dramatically following passage of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid in Kentucky, has held steady since 2014 at about 13 percent. Another 15 percent of Kentucky adults said they were concerned about losing their health insurance in the next 12 months. That proportion also has declined in recent years.

"The lack of insurance coverage can be a life or death matter for a large proportion of our population," said Dr. Brent Wright, a Glasgow physician who is chair of the Foundation's Board of Directors and also president of the Kentucky Medical Association. "Whether its a global pandemic, the flu, or access to daily insulin, the fact is that you have a greater chance of surviving and thriving if you have adequate health insurance so you can afford the care you need as soon as you need it."

In 2019, 43 percent of Kentucky's adults 18-64 had health insurance provided by their employer; 30 percent had public insurance, 12 percent had insurance from another source, and 16 percent were uninsured, according to the KHIP report.

The report, Connections between income and access to health care in Kentucky, is available here.
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About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $29 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org .

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