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men and women sitting around conference table in meeting Numerous surveys have found that US adults trust their employers as a source of health care information generally and for COVID-19 information, specifically above other sources. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was announced in the US in mid-March, our hospitals have been filled with patients seeking care for illness associated with the coronavirus—however, children and adults in the US have been avoiding getting both preventive care and non-urgent care for other conditions.

Colleagues at Castlight Health, RAND, USC, and the National Bureau of Economic Research recently published a study, “Changes in Health Services Utilization Among Commercially Insured U.S. Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” in JAMA Network Open. In our analysis of nearly seven million children and adults with employer-sponsored health insurance in all 50 states, we found that overall health care utilization decreased by 23%  in March and 52% in April of 2020. However, this average is far less important than the details: Astonishingly, in these early months of the pandemic, adults deferred nearly 70% of important preventive services such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and routine testing for diabetes. Moreover, children did not receive about a quarter of their routine immunizations. 

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