NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Commonwealth Study: American Men Don't Seek Health Care

July 24, 2000

American men fail to get the medical care they need to stay in good health, concludes a recent study. A significant number of men do not get routine checkups, preventative care or health counseling. They also ignore symptoms or delay getting medical attention when sick or in pain. Race and ethnicity also play a role in the lack of care.

The study is based on a survey by Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., for the Commonwealth Fund:

  • Three times as many men as women -- 28 percent vs. 8 percent -- have not seen a doctor in the previous year, and one of three has no regular doctors, compared to one of five women.
  • Sixty percent of men over 50 have not been screened for colon cancer and 41 percent have not been tested for prostate cancer.
  • Working-age Hispanic men are twice as likely as white or black men not to have seen a physician in the past year -- 45 percent vs. 22 percent of black men and 25 percent of white men.

The irregular connection men have with the health care system means they often go without preventative care. Men also put off going to the doctor until a medical crisis - only 18 percent seek attention when symptoms begin. These behaviors have the effect of raising health care expenses because they result in worse prognoses (resulting from the delay) and more costly treatments.

Source: David Sandman, Elisabeth Simantov and Christina An, "Out of Touch: American Men and the Health Care System," March 2000, Commonwealth Fund, One East 75th Street, New York, New York, 10021.


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