Associations Between Individual Demographic Characteristics And Involuntary Health Care Delays As A Result Of COVID-19

Published in: Health Affairs, Volume 40, No. 5 (May 2021). doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2021.00101

Posted on RAND.org on April 27, 2021

by Matthew R. Rosengart, Jason M. Ward

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to medical care for millions of Americans, yet information on the individual characteristics associated with these disruptions is lacking. We used recently released data from the Current Population Survey's supplemental COVID-19 questions to provide the first evidence on associations between individual characteristics, including age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, health status, work-limiting disabilities, health insurance coverage, and employment, and the propensity to experience an involuntary care disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Involuntary care disruption is defined as delayed or cancelled care that was not initiated by the patient. Results indicate that older age, being in fair or poor health, greater education, and having health insurance coverage were associated with greater likelihood of experiencing an involuntary delay in accessing medical care. In addition, White, non-Hispanic respondents had higher rates of involuntary care delays than respondents of other races/ethnicities. Our findings provide useful guidance for researchers examining the health consequences of COVID-19-related care disruptions and for policy makers developing tools to offset the potential harms of such disruptions.

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