Survey suggests many families are putting off healthcare visits due to the pandemic.
Data from the Urban Institute April 2021 Health Reform Monitoring Survey shows that many families are delaying care for their children due to fears concerning exposure to the coronavirus. The survey pulled data from “9067 adults aged 18 to 64 years” and found that “nearly 1 in 5” parents delayed or did not get care for their children in the past year due to this fear.
“It’s not surprising given the timing of the survey, April 2021, when many people couldn’t get a vaccine yet and were reporting delayed care because of concerns about exposure during the past 30 days,” study author Dulce Gonzalez, BA, a research associate in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, said. He didn’t elaborate on whether he would expect a different result now that the vaccine is more readily accessible.
A previous survey that the Urban Institute, conducted in September 2020, showed “28.8% of parents” reported delaying care or forgoing one or more types of healthcare for their children because of issues related to the coronavirus. Almost 1 in 10 parents reported that they had skipped doctor’s appointments for their children in the past month. “More than 1 in 10 adults” didn’t take care of their own health during the same time span, the report stated.
“I think it’s important for parents to understand that healthcare workers and healthcare facilities are equipped to prevent infections from spreading,” Mundeep Kainth, DO, MPH, said. “COVID-19 is not the first infection that we’ve seen in the medical setting, and we definitely are well aware of how it can spread and have been taking many precautions.”
Dental care (5.3%) was the highest among care that has been delayed, followed by well visits for children (4.0%) and general or specialist visits (3.2%), according to the authors. “About 3% of parents” reported their children missing immunizations. Approximately 15.6 percent of parents reported delaying care, in general.
As of June 30, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) estimated “41% of U.S. adults reported having delayed or avoided medical care during the pandemic because of concerns about COVID-19, including 12% who reported having avoided urgent or emergency care.” Many individuals fear that if they seek care for a relatively mild condition, they will put themselves at risk of contracting the virus. They also don’t want to risk exposing themselves and bringing it home to their families.
The agency also reported that “nearly one third of adult respondents” have made a decision to delay or avoid routine care, which “might reflect adherence to community mitigation efforts such as stay-at-home orders, temporary closures of health facilities, or additional factors.”
The CDC warns, however, that it is riskier to stay home when immediate care is needed. Some conditions that make one more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus, like diabetes or asthma, can be life-threatening if proper care is not received. The agency suggests that individuals not avoid wellness check-ups simple for fear of contracting the virus because the decision to do so could leave them at a higher fatality risk. Hopefully, with the roll out of the vaccine, these numbers will drop.