Delayed and Forgone Health Care for Nonelderly Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brief

Delayed and Forgone Health Care for Nonelderly Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Findings from the September 11–28 Coronavirus Tracking Survey

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health care in an unprecedented way, leading some patients to postpone or forgo care. Using data from the Urban Institute’s September 2020 Coronavirus Tracking Survey, a nationally representative survey of adults ages 18 to 64, we examine delayed or forgone care during the pandemic for nine types of health care services and assess patterns by race/ethnicity, income, and the presence of physical and mental health conditions. We find that more than one-third (36 percent) of nonelderly adults delayed or did not get care because they were worried about exposure to the coronavirus or because a health care provider limited services because of the pandemic. Black adults and adults with chronic health conditions were among those most likely to report delaying or not getting needed care. Rates of delayed or forgone care were particularly high among adults with mental health conditions. Nearly one-third of adults who delayed or went without care because of the pandemic reported doing so negatively affected their health, ability to work, or ability to perform other daily activities. These findings underscore the importance of steps to address health issues that have not been attended to during the pandemic, including assuaging fears about exposure to the coronavirus in health care settings, strengthening efforts to reduce coronavirus transmission and promote vaccination, and ensuring equitable access to telehealth services.

Centers

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