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Over 30% of Americans Delayed Medical Treatment

Over 30% of Americans Delayed Medical Treatment Last Year - Cite 'Too Expensive'

57% Said, 'Medical Problem was Very or Somewhat Serious'

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Americans are feeling the pinch of rising medical costs. Now it's starting to impact their family well-being. In the first update of the Reader's Digest Family Index, the Gallup Organization polled 1,000 people and found that last year alone, 31% of Americans put off medical treatment because it was too expensive. Of that group, 57% said the medical problem was very or somewhat serious.

These results mean that in the past year, 18% of all U.S. families-more than one in six-experienced a serious health problem they could not afford to treat.

"The Readers Digest Family Index demonstrates vividly the impact that health care costs have on American families. Every presidential candidate, including President Bush, emphasized his plan to increase government support for Medicare," says Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Reader's Digest Family Index advisor. "The stunning number in the Family Index-that nearly a third of American families had put off medical treatment because they could not afford it-makes the abstract problem real indeed."

Some 43.6 million people have no health insurance, according to a 2003 U.S. Census Bureau report. With premiums rising at six times the rate of inflation, fewer employers are offering health coverage. The number of workers at corporations with more than 500 employees who lack health coverage has increased by 50 percent since 1987, reports The Commonwealth Fund, a health care research foundation.

The Reader's Digest Family Index, a twice-a-year survey and index of family well-being, is produced in conjunction with the Gallup Organization. Until now, the U.S. has measured society's well-being using consumer indices based almost exclusively on spending patterns. But families know there is more to life than buying school supplies or refrigerators. This unique ongoing project will provide unprecedented insights into the core concerns of American families, the foundation of our society.

ABOUT READER'S DIGEST

The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (NYSE: RDA), is a global publisher and direct marketer of products that inform, enrich, entertain and inspire people of all ages and all cultures around the world. The company's main Web site is at www.rd.com. Revenues were $2.5 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2003. Global headquarters are located at Pleasantville, New York.

SOURCE Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Web site: http://www.rd.com/


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