Adults in the U.S. are visiting primary care doctors less often, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which could foreshadow worse health outcomes and higher costs.
By the numbers: The study focused on adults enrolled with a large commercial insurer.
- Between 2008 and 2016, visits to primary care physicians declined by 24.2%, and nearly half of adults didn’t visit one in any given year by the end of the time frame.
- Groups with the largest declines were young adults, adults without chronic conditions, and those living in the lowest-income areas.
Meanwhile, visits to alternative facilities like urgent care clinics increased by 46.9%.
The big picture: Primary care doctors are there to keep people healthy. The less often we go to them, the more likely we are to get or remain sick, which ultimately costs the health care system more money.