When Hayden Myer made an eye doctor's appointment for the end of April, he told the clinic that he might not show up for the visit if his tax refund didn't arrive in time.
The 27-year-old, who says his vision is bad enough that he avoids driving at night, has been wearing a four-year-old pair of glasses since he ran out of contact lenses last summer. He's expecting about $265 from his refund.
Myer and many other Americans rely on getting money back at tax time to pay for important health needs. It's a result of thin household savings colliding with rising medical prices and high-deductible insurance plans that expose them to greater health expenses.
"I've never been able to use my return for anything that is a leisure or a pleasure," said Myer, who earns about $40,000 a year running a peer-support line for a mental-health nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia.