Though COVID-19 has put significant pressure on the health care system at large, payers have not yet felt the financial pain confronting hospitals, since utilization for chronic and elective care is at unprecedented lows. But an anticipated spike in utilization (HPW 5/11/20, p. 4) as stay-at-home restrictions relax has led some in the health policy community to examine how the federal government might help mitigate that risk.
According to a May poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48% of Americans have skipped or postponed medical care due to the pandemic, and 32% of that group say they will seek to resume their care in the next three months. Among the people who delayed care, 11% reported their condition worsened because of the delay. That pent-up demand could combine with some level of ongoing need for care to drive claims above anticipated 2020 amounts.