1 in 3 Americans are late, skipping medical care during a pandemic

If you postponed or skipped the necessary medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic, you will have a lot of company.

More than a third of American adults say they have delayed or gone without care either because they fear exposure to the virus or because it is harder to get health care, two new studies have found.

The same reasons have led almost as many parents to avoid caring for their children.

“Long-term gaps in needed medical care lead to poor health outcomes and could create long-term economic challenges as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Mona Shah, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded research conducted by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization.

“As fears of coronavirus infection are eased in a clinical setting, it will be vital that families have access to affordable health care and no longer delay care due to financial problems,” Shah said in a statement from the foundation.

Research, conducted in September, found that the delays had a cost.

One-third of adults who said they delayed or passed without it reported that one or more of their health problems had worsened as a result or that their ability to work or other daily activities was limited.

Adult black adults are more likely than adult white or Hispanic adults to delay or give up care (39.7% vs. 34.3% and 35.5%, respectively).

Among adults with one or more chronic health conditions, 40.7% said they delayed or were left without care, the survey found. More than half (56.3%) of adults with physical and mental health also delayed care.

Dental care was the most common victim (25.3%). One in five adults delayed or left without visiting a general practitioner or specialist, and 15.5% delayed or passed without preventive care.

Among parents with children under the age of 19, more than a quarter reported delaying or missing one or more types of checkups for their children; 15.6% said they postponed or skipped more types of care for your children.

This is more likely among parents with lower incomes (19.6%) than among those with higher incomes (11.4%).

The findings are derived from the Coronavirus Survey by the Urban Institute, a nationally representative study between the ages of 18 and 64, and parents with children under the age of 19.

Dulce Gonzalez, a research associate with the Urban Institute, said the pandemic had caused children, especially those in low-income families, to miss out on health needs.

“These gaps in care can be detrimental to children’s health, development and well-being, but targeted efforts to make up for missed care can help avoid worsening socioeconomic inequalities,” she said in a statement.

Survey: Frequent Reports of Missed Medical Care in U.S. Adults During the Early Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic

More information:
The Mayo Clinic offers advice on visiting a doctor during a pandemic.

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