Skipping Class

Skipping Healthcare Because of a Health Crisis

It’s an odd irony. New data, released yesterday from the Kaiser Family Foundation, tells us that people are skipping healthcare because of the COVID-19 health crisis. In fact, roughly half (48 percent) of Americans say they or someone in their household have postponed healthcare due to the pandemic. One in five (23 percent) of those who reported skipping healthcare said their health got worse because of that.

These data come from a KFF poll conducted May 13-18.

Getting Back to the Doctor?

If there’s any reassurance in this data, it’s that many people expect to get back to their healthcare providers quicker than anything else. About two-thirds (68 percent) of those who delayed healthcare say they’ll be getting it within the next three months. The others think it will take longer – up to a year or more – to get back to the healthcare they need.

Healthcare may recover more quickly than other sectors of the economy, because getting back to it seems to be the top priority. Most respondents (82 percent) say they’ll be visiting a healthcare provider within the next three months. That number is the higher for healthcare than for any other activity. For instance, only one in five (19 percent) think they’ll be going to a sporting event or concert anytime soon. Only about half (53 percent) expect to be eating in a restaurant.

Stress, Anxiety, and Hunger

Needless to say, the pandemic is having a major impact on mental health. Four in ten (39 percent) say they’ve seen a negative effect. Women, urban dwellers, and people who’ve lost jobs or income feel it the most. Roughly one fourth (26 percent) have less food security. They’ve skipped meals, cut back on food, relied on charity, or applied for SNAP benefits.

Partisanship Even in Crisis

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of this situation is the partisanship that seems to flourish, even in a crisis. Republicans are more dismissive of the problem. They worry most about the economy. Democrats are more focused on health and healthcare. Independents fall somewhere in the middle, with half of them saying this crisis is far from over.

Different people will always see the world differently. But perhaps the health versus wealth dichotomy is not so helpful. Shall we rely on wealth to ensure our health? Or is health essential to having a wealthy and prosperous economy? Perhaps these two things are not so easy to separate as partisans would have us believe.

Click here for more from the KFF survey results. For further perspective, click here and here. For more on the importance of getting the care you need now, click here.

Skipping Class, photograph © Rob Oo / flickr

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May 28, 2020