Fewer adults are using primary care, study finds

Americans are visiting primary care physicians far less often than they did a decade ago, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers analyzed deidentified claims data on 142 million primary care visits among U.S. adults covered by a large commercial insurer between 2008 and 2016. All adults were under age 65 and represented 94 million member-years.

Visits to primary care physicians fell by 24.2 percent over the study period. The proportion of adults who did not visit a primary care physician in a given year increased from 38.1 percent in 2008 to 46.4 percent in 2016.

Young adults, people without a chronic disease and individuals living in low-income areas demonstrated the largest drop in primary care visits, although the trend was visible across all age groups and income levels, according to NPR.

The study authors suggested that rising out-of-pocket health costs may play a role in this decline. Patients' out-of-pocket costs increased 31.5 percent over the study period.

To view the full study, click here.

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