In 2010, working-age adults made an average of 3.9 visits to doctors, nurses or other medical providers, down from 4.8 in 2001, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Among those with at least one such visit, the average number of visits also declined, from 6.4 to 5.4 over the period.
These findings are from Health Status, Health Insurance, and Medical Services Utilization: 2010 [PDF], a periodic report that examines the relationship between the use of medical services (such as visits to doctors and nights spent in the hospital), health status, health insurance coverage and other demographic and economic characteristics. The statistics come from the Survey of Income and Program Participation.
According to the report, most Americans consider themselves to be quite healthy: nearly two in three (66 percent) reported their health as being either “excellent” or “very good.” Another 24 percent said their health was “good,” while 8 percent described it as “fair” and 2 percent as “poor.” Non-Hispanic blacks were more likely to consider their health to be fair or poor (13 percent) than non-Hispanic whites (10 percent) or Hispanics (9 percent).
“The decline in the use of medical services was widespread, taking place regardless of health status,” said Brett O'Hara, chief of the Census Bureau's Health and Disability Statistics Branch.
For instance, among working-age adults who reported that their health was either fair or poor, the average number of annual visits dropped from 12.9 to 11.6 over the 2001 to 2010 period. The corresponding numbers fell from 5.3 to 4.2 visits for those reporting good health and from 3.2 to 2.5 among those who said their health was excellent or very good.