People with disabilities more likely to delay care during pandemic: study

30 January 2023

According to a study published in a recent issue of Health Affairs, people with disabilities were more likely to delay medical care because of COVID-19.

The study pulled from data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey, an annual study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the US to examine the impact COVID-19 had on individuals’ access to care.

People surveyed with disabilities, compared with adults without, were more likely to be older, less educated, poor, unemployed, and less likely to be married. They were also more likely to have public health insurance and at least one telehealth visit due to COVID-19 compared to individuals without disabilities.

In the second half of 2020, these individuals were also more likely to report delaying getting care for something other than COVID-19 and were not offered at-home care due to the pandemic. 

The research team noted people with disabilities have been overlooked and are often an afterthought amid the pandemic. They call for a comprehensive surveillance system documenting the impact of crises like COVID-19 on people with disabilities and policy responses addressing the unique needs of various groups.

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