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Missed care has real consequences; experts predict at least 10,000 more deaths from missed screenings in 2020

HOUSTON, August 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A new health care survey released today shows a majority of Houstonians are skipping routine medical care, exposing them – and city resources – to disease management and an acute care crisis.

The survey asked 450 Houston consumers, ages 18 and older, about their health habits and spending. Citing affordability as a widespread issue, 68% admitted to skipping a doctor’s appointment, 59% skipped a prescription, 55% avoided having an x-ray or lab, and 68% skipped the dentist – all this due to fees. Those numbers are surprisingly even higher for Houstonians with chronic illnesses — 74% skipping the doctor or dentist, 68% withholding prescriptions, and 63% avoiding x-rays or labs.

The survey was commissioned by Sesamethe company building a radically new healthcare system for uninsured and underserved Americans by connecting them directly to high-quality doctors at half the price.

Almost all respondents (92%) say rising gas prices and inflation are impacting their ability to pay for essentials like rent/mortgage payments or medical bills – and 65% feel extremely affected by these forces. As a result, 79% are reducing their transportation expenses, 80% have cut back on groceries and food — and 59% admit to cutting back on medical expenses like filling prescriptions or going to the doctor.

Skipping or delaying medical care can have serious consequences, researchers say. A Harvard TH Chan School public health study found that 57% of Americans who delayed medical care reported negative health consequences. experts estimate 10,000 more colon and breast cancer deaths over the next 10 years from missed screenings in 2020 alone. For Houstonians, continually missing critical screenings, vaccinations, management chronic diseases and the early detection of new conditions poses a threat to public health.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Nearly half (48%) of Houstonians surveyed have medical debt — and of those with debt, 57% have more than $1,000 indebted; nearly a quarter owe more than $5,000
  • 52% have received a surprise medical bill in the past year
  • Most residents (32%) wait at least a week before being seen for a medical problem by a primary care physician or nurse; 24% wait at least a month; only 8% can be seen the same day
  • More than a third of respondents did not have an annual meeting this year. Cost, lack of transportation, and lack of time away from home or work were cited as top barriers to care
  • 15% of all respondents say they don’t have a primary care doctor – and 9% of those with chronic conditions don’t
  • Houstonians are the most “sick” of high health care prices (36%), followed by 23% tired of long wait times and 21% of surprise medical bills

To see the full results, please visit

Methodology: This online survey of 450 Houston-area consumers was commissioned by Sesame and conducted by market research firm Pollfish. The data was collected in July 2022.


Sesame is building a radically new healthcare system for Americans who are uninsured or do not receive daily care. The company’s marketplace replaces historically inefficient and expensive healthcare with a direct connection – virtual or in-person – between patients and physicians. This direct connection allows Sesame to offer doctor visits, labs, imaging and prescription drugs at half price. Founders include a Harvard Ph.D. in health policy and economics; a former Goldman Sachs analyst; and entertainment executive and health reformer David Gold Hill, author of The Atlantic’s legendary cover, “How American Health Care Killed My Dad.” Sesame raised $75 million so far from investors that include GV, Virgin Group and General Catalyst. The company was ranked #1 by Healthline for overall care in 2021 and 2022. For more information, please visit

Liz Murphy
[email protected]


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