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One in four skip wellness appointments, regular checkups

About half of adults have avoided at least one common health screening, including tests for certain diseases and other exams.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Photo: kupicoo/Getty Images

Many Americans appear to be rolling the dice on their health, with a new Aflac survey showing that about one in four regularly skip checkups because they feel healthy in the moment.

The Wellness Matters survey, conducted among 2,001 employed adults in the U.S., examines attitudes, habits and opinions about health and preventive care.

It found that patients are skipping out on screenings and other preventive measures for reasons beyond just feeling healthy: Other reasons cited include conflicts with work hours (23%), not thinking about it (22%), dislike of going to the doctor (21%), insurance issues (21%), fear of hearing bad health news (18%) and time commitment to go to the doctor (16%).

According to the survey, about half of adults have avoided at least one common health screening, including exams and certain disease tests. At the same time, 51% of respondents who have had cancer said their diagnosis came as a result of a routine checkup or screening.


There were discrepancies in attitudes about health when broken down by age, race and gender. The majority of men, for instance, have a positive outlook regarding all aspects of their current health, including their ability to control it in the future: weight/BMI (56% men, 38% women), financial health (53% men, 40% women), mental health (66% men, 56% women) and physical health (69% men, 54% women). 

Hispanic men and women also have differing outlooks: weight/BMI (64% men, 45% women), financial health (57% men, 44% women), mental health (71% men, 62% women) and physical health (77% men, 63% women).

According to the survey, Gen Z feels the least control over their mental and physical health, yet they're the most likely to skip annual wellness visits. Baby boomers (64%) and Gen X members (55%) think preventive care is very important to their overall health and wellbeing, versus millennials (49%) and Gen Z members (40%).

Among Hispanic survey respondents, 31% indicate language is a barrier to accessing preventive care resources. As a result, 72% have avoided a wellness screening, compared to 46% who do not feel it is a barrier. Many Hispanic respondents also agree (61%) that health care providers and organizations need to better engage and educate the Latino community about the benefits of being proactive with their health and wellness.

People are more likely to schedule checkups and prioritize wellness screenings as adults if their parents or caregivers demonstrated good habits, such as scheduling childhood wellness appointments early in life, the data showed. 

Most individuals are self-motivated to go to the doctor, most notably Baby boomers (64%), followed by Gen X (45%), millennials (35%), and Gen Z (29%). Additionally, encouragement from loved ones and financial incentives can help motivate individuals to seek preventive care. Many (64%) say they benefit from friends and family who encourage them to go to the doctor for routine visits. Most (85%) are more likely to go to a routine checkup appointment if a cash incentive was offered to help with the cost.


Rising cost is the top reason Americans are deferring care, especially for mental health, nutrition and preventative care, according to Cleveland Clinic physician and Qualtrics Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adrienne Boissy.

"We're emerging to find the world is still different," Boissy told Healthcare Finance News in November. "The impact to people is long-lasting. We're still in it, but we're different now. What the pandemic brought to the forefront is how we show up in a community in a crisis. Affordability and accessibility are key tenets of communities."

Qualtrics data showed that in 2022 nearly a third of consumers, 31%, said they deferred healthcare, and more than a quarter, 26%, chose not to fill a prescription due to cost concerns. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, a comparable 28% deferred care due to pandemic-related concerns.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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