Access to vital health services fell during COVID, particularly for poorer Americans

Americans ’ use of common outpatient health services dipped sharply at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, then rebounded to near-normal levels by the end of 2020, only to decline again during the second surge in January–February 2021, according to a new UCLA-led study.But the 2020 recovery in care wasn ’t equal for all, researchers found. Some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged patients — those with Medicaid or Medicare-Medicaid dual eligibility insurance — were far less likely than those with other insurance plans to return to using outpatient services at rates approaching normal, pre-pandemic levels.The study,published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association and based on data on 14.5 million adults in the U.S., raises concerns about patients missing treatments for acute illnesses, delaying preventive care and lacking a clear understanding of when to seek help during the pandemic, said lead author Dr. John Mafi, an associate professor of medicine and practicing general internist at theDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.“The worsening access to care we observed among socioeconomically disadvantaged Americans is particularly concerning,” Mafi said, “because it suggests that the pandemic is widening inequities in access to vital health services such as emergency care, preventive cancer screening and behavioral health services.”For the study, the researchers looked at the use of six ambulatory care services: emergency depart...
Source: UCLA Newsroom: Health Sciences - Category: Universities & Medical Training Source Type: news