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The lack of medical care for Medicare beneficiaries during the coronavirus pandemic declined over time, and the lack of medical care was more pronounced among Medicare beneficiaries who reported mental health issues, a recent study find.
Before the pandemic, delayed or abandoned medical care was a known health problem and Previous search had linked it to poor health outcomes that unfairly impacted vulnerable patients. Other Previous search showed that about 40% of U.S. adults reported forgoing medical care during the pandemic, with fear of COVID-19 exposure cited as one of the reasons.
The recent study, published by JAMA Health Forum, includes data collected from over 23,000 Medicare beneficiaries over three time periods: June 7 to July 12, 2020, October 4 to November 8, 2020, and February 28 to April 25, 2021. Data was collected from Medicare Public use file of the current beneficiary survey COVID-19 supplement.
The recent study presents several key data points.
“The results of this cross-sectional investigative study suggest that public health emergencies, such as pandemics, may exacerbate existing barriers to care and cause patients to delay needed care. Factors unique to the pandemic included the shutdown of clinics. doctors’ offices, reduced appointment availability and fear of contagion. Medicare beneficiaries who experience increased mental health issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic appear to be particularly vulnerable to the lack of of medical care, ”the study co-authors wrote.
Christopher Cheney is the editor of clinical care at HealthLeaders.