FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Surveys conducted by UnitedHealthcare and the CDC revealed that an alarming number of Hoosiers are avoiding medical visits because of concerns about contracting COVID-19.
According to UnitedHealthcare, about 30 percent of Hoosiers reported delaying medical care because of the virus, which is about 2 million people. Nationwide, about 40 percent of Americans have delayed or avoided care.
“About one third of those avoided routine care, like annual checkups. In some cases even avoided urgent and emergency care in Indiana,” said Dr. Julie Daftari, the Chief Medical Officer for UnitedHealthcare Indiana.
Although this trend is starting to reverse as people become more comfortable with going back, people avoiding going to the doctor has resulted in severe consequences.
“Delaying or avoiding care can increase the incidence of illness and death associated with treatable and preventable health conditions,” said Dr. Daftari. “So it’s very important particularly for people that have some of those chronic conditions, that might be at greatest risk for complications of COVID, to actually continue to see their doctor to help prevent some of those complications.”
According to the CDC, people with obesity, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease are dying at 12 times the rate of the rest of the population because they’re avoiding care.
Other examples of chronic health conditions that can cause increased illness if they are left unchecked include diabetes and heart failure, according to Dr. Daftari.
Dr. Daftari said that doctor’s offices are becoming “very equipped” to handle some of people’s safety concerns.
“They’re taking extra measures with cleaning, not that they weren’t already doing it, but it’s actually going an extra mile to make sure that everybody safety is ensured,” said Dr. Daftari. Other measures include decreasing time spent in waiting rooms.
There are also alternatives to a face to face doctor’s appointment such as drive-thru flu clinics and virtual visits. In some cases, these are just as effective as going to see a doctor in person.
“What we’ve learned with this pandemic is there are a lot of conditions that don’t have to be face to face to be managed,” said Dr. Daftari. However, “there’s never a substitute, anytime there’s a medical emergency definitely call 911.”
Dr. Daftari urges everyone who has avoided care to get back to the doctor. She suggested that each individual calls their doctor to determine which setting is best for them.