We already know that these challenging economic times have prompted many people to cut back on spending.

But we’ve entered an entirely more troubling place as a growing number of Americans are putting off healthcare for financial reasons.

According to a new Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who say they or a family member delayed medical treatment due to cost rose to 38% last year from 26% a year before.

“Young adults, those in lower-income households and women were especially likely to say they or a family member had put off medical care,” Gallup found.

Even more alarming, a large share of the deferred treatment is for conditions that people describe as “a very or somewhat serious condition.”

Sky-high medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcies in this country — a dubious distinction that underlines how unaffordable healthcare is for millions of households.

“In 2022, Americans with an annual household income under $40,000 were nearly twice as likely as those with an income of $100,000 or more to say someone in their family delayed medical care for a serious condition,” Gallup found.

This is, of course, an intolerable situation for the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world.

But it’s pretty much par for the course for our more than $4-trillion healthcare system. Americans pay roughly twice as much for treatment as people in other developed countries.

My two cents: If possible, don’t skip medical care. But don’t hesitate to make your financial situation clear to your doctor or hospital.

In many cases, healthcare providers will cut bills by as much as a third for patients facing financial hardship.

You can also bring in a professional patient advocate to help negotiate costs if needed.

Healthcare isn’t something to mess around with — or to treat as a luxury as opposed to a necessity.

Some day, hopefully, a majority of our political leaders will recognize this.