More than one in five older Americans skimp on health care to save money, says the Employee Benefit Research Group.

A significant number of Americans over the age of 50 skip medication or postpone doctors' appointments to save money, according to a recent report by the EBRI, a private, nonprofit research institute based in Washington.

According to the study, 21.5% cut down on their prescription drugs, switched to cheaper drugs or got free samples, and 19.4% skipped or postponed doctor appointments. An even larger number, 27.5 %, reported having difficulty paying their monthly bills.

"We know that consumption tends to fall with age, but it's difficult to measure whether falling consumption is voluntary," says Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI author of the study.

"However, we found evidence that a significant segment of the older population may be making spending adjustments to their health care in order to save money,"  Banerjee adds.

One in 10 people in excellent health reported skipping or postponing doctors' appointments to save money, while 36.5% of those in poor health reported doing the same. Similarly, 29.9% of those in poor health reported making prescription drug changes to save money.

Single women and blacks made the most changes to save money. For single women, 22.8% changed their prescription drug allowances and 24.8% postponed doctors' appointment, while for blacks the respective figures were even higher at 25.9% and 27.3% respectively.

The report was published in the January EBRI Notes: Spending Adjustments Made by Older Americans to Save Money and is available at