A lot fewer people are going to the doctor this year, and no, that’s not a good thing.
Here’s JP Morgan’s John Rex:
Sept ’11 office visit volumes down 8% y/y, while the sequential throughput measure increases 6% from August…. Primary care trends still running weaker… Med utilization still trending lower. At least there’s still some seasonal impact. At this point, we believe it’s well understood that 3Q medical utilization persisted weak, even biasing lower, and perhaps observing none of the typical expected seasonal recovery in September would have been the much bigger surprise.
People are cutting back on health care due to financial concerns.
77% of Americans delayed visits to the dentist due to cost of care, according to the 2011 Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility. Another survey taken before the recession found that 25% of Americans threw away prescriptions they couldn’t afford to fill — and that number is probably worse now.