A new KFF brief outlines the potential impacts of delaying reproductive health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure and preserve personal protective equipment, government agencies and professional health societies were tasked with providing guidance on which health care services to consider “essential” and which to consider “elective” and postpone. As a result, large declines in patient encounters have been observed within reproductive health care, particularly for preventive health services (e.g. cancer screening), infertility care, contraception and sexually transmitted infections. While many of the conditions deemed “non-essential” are not life-threatening, they can result in significant morbidity and poor quality of life if delayed.
Recent KFF polling data finds that more than half (54%) of US women reported they or a family member have skipped or postponed medical care due to the coronavirus outbreak. As states begin to reopen and health systems resume more in-person care, many women said they plan to seek care in the next one to three months. However, policymakers and providers may have to again contend with deciding which services can be delayed in the event of future surges of COVID-19 cases.