East Texans careful how they spend their money on medical care

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The recession is forcing some East Texans to make cutbacks in their budgets. Local hospitals are seeing more of their patients thinking long and hard before they go under the knife.

"I just had an MRI of my neck because I'm having arthritis problems so...I've opted not to have that surgery just to keep on keeping on for awhile," said patient, Kitty Bounds.

Bounds said she's had to think twice about her medical care.

"[I'm] really evaluating every step of the way things that you have to have done," Bounds said.

One East Texas hospital said many of their patients are really considering their options these days.

"We see our outpatient volumes continue to grow, but we've seen our admissions decline and that's a national trend, quite frankly," said President and CEO of Memorial Health System of East Texas Bryant H. Krenek. "People have either been laid off or obviously not had the kind of business that they have had in the past and they're having to watch how they spend their dollars and when it comes to Health care."

"I wouldn't be able to afford to have any kind of an elective surgery and I'm sure there are people putting those surgeries off," Bounds said.

"We do see that the patients are concerned about their health bills and also that some of them have lost their jobs so they can't afford insurance and they have to pay cash," said Cardiologist at Memorial Health System of East Texas, Dr. Ravinder Bachireddy.

However, if you don't take care of pressing medical problems it could become too late.

"You increase your chances of having a bad outcome and you increase the cost of providing care to yourself," Krenek said.

He hopes less cash will become a reason for people to start taking better care of themselves.

"We're going to take care of the folks no matter what, but it is presenting a challenge no doubt about it," Krenek said.

Krenek said advanced medical technology also plays a role in the increased in their outpatient volume.

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