I reported last week on the Federal Reserve System's plan to spend money—$600 billion in eight months—because consumers and businesses aren't spending enough to revive the economy. “Household spending is increasing gradually, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit,” the Federal Reserve's open market committee said about its plans to buy longer term Treasury securities.
Healthcare appears to be one thing consumers have tried to forgo as continued high unemployment and troubled housing market have left more households without the income, equity or insurance to cover the cost of treating an illness or injury.
Some recent reports underscore how demand for medical care has flagged alongside the economy. For policymakers, the trend presents a distressing challenge, as the weak economy that has troubled the Federal Reserve also increases demand for publicly subsidized healthcare while states are struggling. For public health officials and households, the trend could mean costly and harmful unmet need for medical care.