(Bloomberg) – Health care costs are keeping patients away from the doctor with about one in three Americans saying they put off a medical treatment or regular checkup because of the expense.

Medical costs were the most important factor in making a health care decision for 27% of people, outweighing advice from their physician, according to a survey of 800 people by New York-based Hill & Knowlton Strategies. The results were released Tuesday at the Bloomberg Healthcare Innovations Conference in New York.

The price of insurance premiums have risen 97% since 2002 with families now contributing about $4,300 a year to employee-sponsored health plans, according to a report last month by the Commonwealth Fund. Still, most Americans said they aren’t willing to cut back on choice to save money and don’t want companies to scale back innovation to keep costs down.

“What the public needs and what it ultimately values – and will pay for – are not always the same thing,” says Susan Thiele, U.S. health care practice director at Hill & Knowlton. “In this environment, it’s critical to understand shifting public opinion so that new advances are developed and positioned in a way that’s meaningful to consumers.”

In the survey, 45% of people worried a lot about paying medical bills in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident, and 36% are very concerned with paying for health insurance coverage. When asked what the biggest problem facing health care in the U.S. was, 53% cited cost.

Most respondents aren't concerned about having access to the latest and most cutting-edge treatments. Instead, they would rather see companies come up with innovative ways to lower costs rather than finding new medicines or cures, the survey reveals.

Of those surveyed, 85% had public or private health insurance and 11% were temporarily unemployed.

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