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Study: Visits To Doctors, Hospitals Decrease Over Last 10 Years

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File photo of a doctor using stethoscope on patient.  (credit: Dougal Waters/GettyImages)

File photo of a doctor using stethoscope on patient. (credit: Dougal Waters/GettyImages)

CBS Atlanta (con't)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A new report finds that doctor visits have decreased over the past 10 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that the decrease happened between 2001 and 2010 – the same time when the cost of health insurance, deductibles and co-pays went up.

The report states that yearly medical visits among the uninsured between the ages of 18 to 64 declined from 4.8 visits in 2001 to 3.9 visits in 2010.

“We imagine this is due to several things including higher co-pays and not being able to find a physician,” Glen Stream, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told USA Today. “There is a severe doctor shortage. It could also be that people have to decide between going to the doctor and buying gas because they’ve lost a job or are worried they’ll lose a job.”

In 2010, 38.6 percent of people living in poverty did not see a medical provider.

“We know for a fact that insurance status is a very strong predictor of health,” Stream explained to USA Today. “If you have coverage, you’re going to be healthier because you have access to medical services.”

The report also showed that spending a night in the hospital is a rare occurrence.

“If you’re uninsured or on Medicaid, it’s not easy to find quality care,” Andrew Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, told USA Today. “But I think what we’re finding with the new health care law is there will be more services. The question remains to be seen if they’ll have access to the important primary care though.”

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