Involuntary And Patient-Initiated Delays In Medical Care During The COVID-19 Pandemic


This paper uses data from a new, nationally representative survey to study delays in non–COVID-related medical care among US adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. We expand on prior research by taking a comprehensive look at the many reasons patients may have experienced delays in medical care and by studying the longer-run implications of these delays for patients’ self-reported health, use of telemedicine, feelings of regret, and likelihood of delaying care again in the future. Classifying delays in care broadly as involuntary (those due to availability or “supply-side” constraints) or patient-initiated (those due to patient concerns or “demand-side” constraints), we document important differences across demographic groups in the propensity to delay care for these reasons. In contrast to most prior work on this topic, our analyses can disentangle differences in the likelihood of delaying care from differences in pre-pandemic care-seeking behavior. We also demonstrate that the types of medical care that were delayed during the pandemic differed based on whether the delay was involuntary or patient-initiated, as did the duration of the delays and their associations with self-reported health, telemedicine use, and feelings of regret

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