- A new survey by the Alliance of Community Health Plans and the pharmacist lobby AMCP indicates the COVID-19 pandemic has completely uprooted the conventional ways consumers obtain healthcare. Seventy-two percent say they have changed the way they access medical services.
According to the survey of 1,263 adults conducted earlier this month, 41% have delayed receiving healthcare services, and 38% intend to delay future care, treatment and procedures. Among those with a chronic condition, 60% say they have put off getting care.
The break is attributed primarily to discomfort visiting providers; 42% say they feel uncomfortable visiting a hospital, while 45% feel uncomfortable visiting an urgent care or walk-in clinic. Moreover, 74% say they believe it is likely or very likely there will be a resurgence of COVID-19 in the autumn or winter months, which is likely to skew their perceptions about the way they should receive healthcare services even further. Thirty-eight percent already say they would like to put off obtaining care for at least six months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended just about every aspect of daily lives in the United States. And while healthcare providers have been hailed as heroes for treating coronavirus patients during the outbreak, the ACHP/ACMP survey is fairly conclusive in stating would-be patients in need of other forms of care would rather put it off for now. However, some other data suggest that patients are returning to their doctors' offices.
Where care is obtained is a matter of great concern. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed want to be tested for COVID-19, however, only 69% say they would be comfortable being tested at a doctor’s office, and only 18% say they would be comfortable being tested at their workplace.
"The pandemic has put consumers in a healthcare tailspin: They want to be tested for COVID-19, and for that, they rank their doctor's office as the place they would feel most comfortable. However, for all other healthcare services and treatment, consumers want to delay visiting healthcare facilities altogether," ACHP CEO Ceci Connolly said. "As a result, we see a healthcare industry, already stretched due to coronavirus itself, struggling to provide care and coverage."
Patients appear to be less apprehensive about visiting pharmacists. Nearly half (49%) say they are "very comfortable" picking up prescriptions at their local pharmacy. And among the cohort that received new medications in the past 90 days, 90% did so at a local pharmacy.
Meanwhile, consumers also have other worries other than where they should obtain their healthcare. According to the survey, 21% of those with insurance are worried about losing their healthcare coverage within the next six months. Among those who lack insurance, 38% percent say they are willing to pay between $75 and $300 a month to obtain coverage.