People avoid GP visit ‘due to cost’

MORE than half the population puts off routine medical checks including visits to the family doctor because of cost, a new survey has found.

Visits to the dentist and the optician are also deferred because of expense.

The nationwide survey found a fifth of households spend between €250 and €650 on medical expenses over a six-month period, adding considerably to household expenditure.

A spokesman for St Vincent de Paul said it came as no surprise that people were forced to put off visiting the doctor because of cost and he called on the Government to extend medical card coverage.

The spokesman’s comments tie in with the survey findings which show that 61% of women compared with 50% of men are more likely to put off medical checks.

The survey, carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of HSF Health Plan, a not-for-profit organisation that gives up to 100% cash back to help cover everyday medical expenses, found more than a third of the population has delayed medical checks for six months or more.

The research also shows that routine medical costs are at the bottom of the list for household savings behind house, holidays, car and socialising.

“The results are not surprising as everyday medical expenses are proving to be costly to Irish families,” said Roy Smith of HSF Health Plan.

* The survey was conducted by Empathy Research in August 2007 with a sample of 1,053 adults, aged 18-44, of which 35% had children.

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