Americans who live farther from a primary care provider or pharmacy are more likely to be dissatisfied with their mental and overall health, according to a new study conducted by Morning Consult for Hy-Vee’s subsidiary RedBox Rx, a telehealth and online pharmacy provider.
The study of 2,209 adults nationwide found that 38% of Americans who live more than 20 miles away from their primary care provider are dissatisfied with their overall health, compared with 28% who live less than 20 miles away. The numbers are similar for mental health: 40% dissatisfaction for those living more than 20 miles away versus 29% who are closer.
“Distance may not be the only cause, however there certainly seems to be a connection that points to the importance of a patient’s proximity to health care,” said Marshall Sanders, president of RedBox Rx.
The study also showed a connection between distance to a pharmacy and mental health dissatisfaction. In fact, 48% of adults who live more than 20 miles from a pharmacy say they are dissatisfied with their mental health, compared with 30% dissatisfaction among those within 20 miles.
“At RedBox Rx, we’re trying to make health care more accessible and more affordable for both physical and mental health,” Sanders said. “This national survey highlights how important that is.”
Three in 10 Americans (30%) say they struggled more in the past year with mental health. That’s in addition to 34% who say their mental health struggles were about the same. Yet about one in five of those who struggle (21%) say cost prevents them from seeking professional care, and 22% are uncomfortable discussing anxiety and depression with a doctor or nurse in person.
“The current healthcare system isn’t meeting the mental health needs of a lot of people,” Sanders said. “It’s critical that we create ways to make people more comfortable having the conversation. For some, an online consultation is helpful. We also need to address price transparency so people know in advance what treatments will cost for mental health and other conditions.”
The Morning Consult study also showed that three in five Americans (60%) are concerned about costs associated with a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription. Sixty percent are interested in prescription delivery, with millennials (66%) and high-income Americans (66%) showing the most interest.
The study also revealed concerns about discussing additional medical conditions in person with a doctor or nurse. For example, 29% of Americans are uncomfortable discussing sexual health in person, and 15% are uncomfortable discussing hair loss. These numbers about four times and twice as high, respectively, as the discomfort associated with discussion of general healthcare issues (7%).