A recent Insure.com survey explores whether people delayed health care during the COVID-19 pandemic and what type of health care services they avoided.
Nearly 40% of respondents reported they postponed certain health services, including:
- 21% of respondents delayed dental visits
- 18% delayed primary care
- 14% delayed eye doctor
- 12% delayed specialist
- 10% delayed physical therapy
- 8% delayed mental health
Find the complete survey results and analysis: Survey: Almost 40% delayed health care during COVID-19.
While concerns about contracting COVID-19 drive delays in doctor visits, deferred care has serious consequences. Industry experts including Gail Trauco, a patients' rights advocate, caution that delaying health services can:
- Increase appointment backlogs. As people begin to resume their medical care, they may find their wait becomes even longer as health care providers experience appointment backlogs. Providers may face challenges catching up with the demand from this surge.
- Exacerbate medical problems. Delaying health care can result in undiagnosed and untreated conditions, including early stage cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and diabetes. This can lead to emergency hospitalizations and permanent damage to the body.
- Raise health care costs. Since doctor visit delays can lead to serious health problems, people may find that their health insurance costs increase. Also, more people seeking care can contribute to insurance companies raising prices.
The survey also finds that 35% expect to use more health services over the next year including, by age group:
- 39% of those age 65-plus
- 33% of those age 18-24
- 32% of those age 55-64
- 32% of those age 45-54
- 32% of those age 35-44
- 30% of those age 25-34
"It is concerning that nearly 40% of seniors anticipate needing more health services in the year ahead," notes Les Masterson, managing editor for Insure. "Given that people over age 65 may have complex medical histories and multiple complaints, providers may need to plan for longer appointment times to carefully assess those who have missed check-ups."
Virtual care may remain an important component of health care delivery. "With significant percentages of patients indicating a need for more health services this year, virtual appointments could be a way for providers to efficiently assess health complaints and conditions," suggests Masterson.
Masterson is available to comment on the results of this 1,673-person study and can answer questions about how consumers can find affordable health insurance that meets their needs.
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