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In a report released this week by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that conducts independent research on health and social issues, finds that even though more Americans now have health insurance, many still avoid seeing doctors because of high out-of-pocket expenses.

Because of high health insurance deductibles, about 23 percent of Americans ages 19 to 64 were considered underinsured. This amounts to 31 million people who chose not to fill essential prescriptions, undergo necessary diagnostic tests or see specialists out of fear that doing so would leave them in a financial ruin. The authors of the report say their findings highlight the need to create policies that encourage patients to seek out preventive care.

“These could include innovations in benefit design that slow growth in deductibles and emphasize incentives that encourage people to utilize, rather than delay, timely health care,” the authors write in the conclusion of the report. Source: The Commonwealth Fund