Delaying medical care can have serious financial and health implications. It can result in higher health-care costs and poorer outcomes for many patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When a patient delays receiving care, their health may worsen, exacerbating an already dire situation. Putting off medical checkups is not a new phenomenon, but the magnitude of deferred care doctors have seen in the last year is unprecedented. The result, however, can be bad for your health, as well as your finances.
According to the CDC, as many as 41% of adults delayed or avoided medical care due to COVID-related concerns. The reasons were numerous: concerns about visiting health-care facilities and bringing the virus back home, burnout from too much work, the struggle to balance work and childcare, or the loss of employer-based health insurance.
Effects Of Deferred Care
The goal of screening is to identify problems early, before they become more difficult, messy, or too large to recover from. You want to find something early so that you can make changes and avoid additional costs.
During the COVID induced sheltering-in-place orders, many people deferred care for things that were active issues, new things that may have arisen, chronic issues, things for which they had a diagnosis–or even things that were preventative. Because of the looming threat of COVID, there was a great deal of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty about whether or not the health-care setting was a safe place to interact with. This does not come without consequences and the following are some impacts of deferred care :
Lower rates of early detection:
Healthcare providers have prioritized more emergent and urgent care in anticipation of COVID-19 treatment needs. Preventive care, early detection of conditions, and elective procedures have received fewer resources. Patients have also chosen to postpone non-essential care. Due to the importance of early detection on long-term health outcomes, delayed screenings pose a significant health challenge for patients, providers, and payers.
Preventative healthcare has several advantages, including reduced resource requirements and lower costs. People who miss out on early detection of cancer and other critical diagnoses may require longer and more expensive care as a result of delays in routine preventative care.
The combination of ongoing COVID-19 variants, critical care prioritization, and deferred care demands creates scheduling challenges. Patients contacting providers will most likely face longer wait times for appointments than in the past.
People who postponed elective procedures must also deal with the difficulty of scheduling appointments. It could take weeks or months to get everything in order. Medical practices are also under pressure to accommodate patients in need of care, as practitioners' time and energy are limited.