As health insurance premiums and deductibles rise, even patients with health insurance are finding it difficult to keep up with escalating costs. Betty Ann Bowser reports on the challenges facing the "underinsured" in Nashville, Tenn.
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Now, the first of three stories on health care challenges facing President-elect Obama and the new Congress.
Tonight, NewsHour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports from Nashville on how the recession is affecting personal choices. Our Health Unit is a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour Correspondent:
These days in the honky-tonk bars that line the main street of the nation's country music capital, good tips are hard to come by. Like most cities, Nashville is trying to make it through difficult times.
Times are tough all over, and we know some of you can only afford to tip us 20…
BETTY ANN BOWSER:
Everything costs more, including health care. Doctors here at the city's Baptist Hospital are seeing dramatic evidence of what happens when health care costs continue to rise in an economic downturn.
In the past few months, there's been a 40 percent increase in the number of patients who've cancelled appointments with the hospital's cardiology practice, many of whom are insured.
CEO Charlie Powell says these are people who have serious heart conditions.
CHARLIE POWELL, CEO, St. Thomas Heart Baptist Hospital:
The longer you put off preventive care, the more likely you are to end up in the emergency room and come much closer to a situation where death could be the result of a serious cardiac condition.
BETTY ANN BOWSER:
So these people are literally flirting with death?
Absolutely. What we're now seeing is those people with insurance making these decisions, as well.