Hartford, CT — More than 2 out of 5 workers have chosen to delay routine medical care since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as many report declines in physical health, mental health and social well-being.
Researchers from The Hartford insurance company surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers in January. They found that 43% of respondents have delayed health care appointments since the beginning of the public health crisis. COVID-19 was cited as the leading reason for delaying care, with 47% of the workers indicating that fear of contracting the disease guided their decision. Other common reasons include difficulty getting an appointment, needing to cancel appointments because of COVID-19-related restrictions or requirements, fear of other illnesses, and lack of priority.
“It is difficult to overcome the fear and fatigue we’re all experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it is important that people get back to prioritizing routine health visits and screenings to stay physically and mentally healthy,” Adam Seidner, chief medical officer at The Hartford, said in a press release. “Many health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, may not be noticeable or detected without routine screenings. These types of conditions, when they continue to develop undetected, can lead to more serious health problems.”
Seidner says employers can help by:
- Offering benefits and resources that address workers’ overall well-being.
- Communicating frequently to workers about available benefits and services.
- Offering workers flexibility to prioritize their appointments.
- Leading by example by prioritizing your own appointments.
“Employers play a key role in helping to remove some of the barriers to health care, which is important in helping people live active and productive lives,” Seidner said. “I encourage employers to continue to offer the flexibility needed to ensure their employees can take key steps to improve their mental and physical health – and avoid the dangers of delayed care.”