What is Deferred Care? COVID-19 Risks for Delaying Care

COVID-19 has many people scared and one response to the outbreak of the pandemic and the social distancing requirements involves patients deferring necessary medical care. This is a point of concern because this means that patients’ conditions would likely worsen while they choose to avoid going to the hospital from fear of exposure to COVID-19. Some patients have delayed care for reasons that stem from fear of exposure to the coronavirus to the burden of out-of-pocket costs when jobless. Deferred care is only likely to make a bad situation worse.

Patients Defer Necessary Medical Care Due to COVID-19

Many patients defer necessary medical care due to COVID-19. According to recent data from Cigna, patients have deferred treatments for seven different acute clinical conditions, including acute appendicitis, acute coronary syndromes, aortic aneurysm and dissection, atrial fibrillation epilepsy and seizure, gastrointestinal bleed and transient ischemic attack. All these conditions require immediate care, and a consistent reduction in hospitalization since COVID-19 is a disturbing sign that patients are opting not to seek medical care. 

The fear of contracting the virus is a concern of many patients who need urgent care but would rather stay home than risk it. Others feel like the work that doctors are doing to fight COVID-19 is far more important than their health issue that is unrelated to coronavirus, and some patients have delayed care because they may have lost their jobs, and as a result, health insurance and income to cover out-of-pocket health-care costs. It is not only crucial that patients continue to seek medical care during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also important that they have access to critical clinical care.

Impact of Deferring Medical Care

A patient deferring medical care can have serious financial and health implications. It can lead to higher healthcare costs and unhealthier outcomes for many patients. A patient’s health may deteriorate when they defer care, making an already bad situation far worse. Missed care may very well impact survival rate, whereby a worsening health condition could mean death, consequently. Another reality of the impact of deferred medical care is that worsening health will likely result in higher healthcare costs. Bigger health problems usually require more money to fix. Many Americans are faced with unemployment, making medical care unaffordable for many patients.

Access Medical Care During COVID-19

Patients’ access to medical care is important during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that immediate medical care as well as continued care is received. Patients can access care by visiting an urgent care center that has COVID-sanitation policies, telemedicine, and COVID-19 testing. If you would like to seek medical care at a local urgent care center, do your research and ensure that the facility is equipped with the necessary tools to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure your safety. 

Fears around exposure to COVID-19 has many patients deferring medical care. However, this move can have serious implications on a patient’s health and burden them with healthcare costs later on. Deferred medical care when your medical condition requires immediate care is a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t let COVID prevent you from getting the medical care you need.