Positive money management skills may help patients afford their medical care.

One in four Americans currently struggle to pay medical bills and often go without needed treatment due to the cost. Going without prescribed medicines and services, also known as cost-related nonadherence, can make it difficult for patients to manage complex conditions, especially chronic disease.

In a recent study published in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, a research team led by Dr. Minal Patel, at the University of Michigan School of Public Health explored the relationships between financial stress, positive money management behaviors, and cost-related nonadherence in a low-income population. Data came from the 2011 Speak to Your Health Community Survey.

Patel and her colleagues found that adults who experienced greater financial stress were more likely to go without needed care and prescriptions. Fortunately, practicing more positive money management behaviors, such as spending only what one can afford and saving on a monthly basis, decreased the likelihood of cost-related nonadherence.

Interventions to reduce cost-related nonadherence have traditionally focused on helping patients purchase health insurance. However, with rising deductibles and out of pocket costs, even patients with insurance struggle to afford their care. This new study indicates that interventions that focus on improving patients financial literacy will be especially critical for chronic disease patients who face life-long care needs and high costs.  

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