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New Healthcare Utilization Study During Pandemic Shutdown Paints Challenging Outlook for U.S. Workforce Health and Productivity

New Healthcare Utilization Study During Pandemic Shutdown Paints Challenging Outlook for U.S. Workforce Health and Productivity

First comprehensive study of the employer self-insured market finds significant decreases in healthcare utilization and deferred care for top chronic conditions

Castlight Health, a leading healthcare navigation platform, announced the results of the first comprehensive study of overall healthcare utilization and deferred care for the self-insured employer market during the COVID-19 shutdown. The new study was published in JAMA Network Open, with key findings on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare utilization including deferred care, telemedicine, and racial and income disparities.

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Overall healthcare utilization by covered employees declined 23 percent in March 2020, and 52 percent in April 2020, with large reductions of nearly 70 percent in preventative care for top chronic health conditions including cancer screenings and routine disease management. Deferred care for patients aged 46 to 64 during March and April 2020 is of particular concern, including:

  • 70% decrease in colonoscopies
  • 67% decrease in mammograms
  • 51% decrease in HbA1c diabetes testing

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. The CDC projects cancer to be the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, followed by COVID-19-related morbidities.

“Managing complex health conditions is challenging even in the best of times,” said Dr. Dena Bravata, co-author of the study and chief medical officer at Castlight Health. “However, the rate of deferred care that we have documented is alarming, not only in terms of the risks to patients but also to the companies who employ them. Telehealth is helping some populations get the care they need, but is not being utilized by many of the most vulnerable.”

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