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Consumers Expect to Use More Health Care This Year: Insure.com

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What You Need to Know

  • 21% of the survey participants said they put off dental visits.
  • 12% put off specialist visits.
  • 35% predict they'll now use more health care services.

Americans believe they have a huge, pent-up demand for routine health care services.

Insure.com, an insurance lead-generation firm based in Foster City, California, has provided a rough picture of that demand in a summary of results from a Google survey.

The sample included 1,673 people ages 18 and older.

About 40% of the survey participants said they have put off getting some kind of health care because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 35% said they expect to use more health care services over the coming year than they used last year.

The share of survey takers who said they expect to use more care in the coming year ranged from 30% to 33% for participants ages 18 through 64.

In the 65-and-older age group, 39% of the participants predicted they would use more care.

Which Payers Are on the Hook?

Many of the bills could end up being the responsibility of dental insurers, vision plans or the patients themselves, rather than of major medical insurers: 21% of the participants said they delayed getting dental care because of the pandemic, and 14% said they delayed getting eye care.

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But 18% of the participants said they put off getting primary care, and 12% put off getting specialist care.

The figures suggest that Medicare plans could see patients coming in with cases of Type 2 diabetes and skin cancer that should have been caught earlier.

Health Insurers Saw This Coming

Health insurance company executives from companies like Anthem Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. have been saying for months that the pandemic caused a sharp drop in use of medical care from March 2020 through May 2020, but that utilization rates could rise above normal levels once pandemic-related fears and social distancing rules  dissipated.

Another open question is what will happen to the reported expenditures on COVID-19 care. Health insurers have said little about what they have been spending on COVID-19 care.

Early on, executives from some health insurers appeared to imply that the savings from patients’ reduction in use of ordinary care was far bigger than the impact of COVID-19 care costs.

When health insurers like Anthem reported earnings for the fourth quarter, they implied that the impact of COVID-19 care costs was getting bigger.

(Image: Adobe Stock)