Delayed Preventive Care – How This Silent Phenomenon Is Impacting Your Workforce

Employee Benefits

Delayed Preventive Care – How This Silent Phenomenon Is Impacting Your Workforce

Amongst the myriad of COVID’s long-term consequences, delayed preventive care has emerged as a concern for workforce populations. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer screenings and other elective preventive health care declined. 

While preventive health care is on the rise towards pre-pandemic levels, nearly 50% of adults aged 18 to 34 have been unable to catch up with appointments they missed during the pandemic. The impact of this phenomenon is now being felt, with providers reporting negative health consequences.

Delayed Care from an Employer’s Perspective

Telemedicine and digital tools have helped to fill health care gaps, but many people have neglected non-emergency health care altogether, including annual preventive screenings for conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.  

This ongoing delayed care is a concern for employers. Neglecting preventative health care appointments may lead to lower employee well-being, which is a concern for employers due to the well-documented correlations between poor health and poor performance. In fact, poor health and illnesses cost U.S. employers $575 billion annually in lost workplace productivity and absenteeism.

Beyond the Pandemic: Addressing Barriers to Care

While COVID-19 exacerbated preventive care delays, it was not entirely responsible. Financial and access barriers unrelated to COVID-19 account for 69% of the general U.S. population who reported delaying care for serious problems. These barriers included being unable to get an appointment, find a physician who would see them or access the care location. This appears to be a consistent issue across many populations since there were no significant differences in delayed care for serious medical problems based on insurance status, type or racial/ethnic group. 

The consequences of delaying medical care can include exacerbating morbidity and mortality associated with chronic and acute medical conditions. New diagnoses may also emerge with greater severity, given the lack of early screening.

What Can Employers Do? 

To help counteract this reality, many employers are increasing chronic-disease screening and management programs. For example, employers are enhancing and expanding diabetes management programs to provide free equipment for monitoring blood sugar, as well as materials and coaching for employees with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Other considerations include the following:

  • Set up your health plan to support a virtual option or supplement by providing access to a virtual care provider.  
  • Build topic-specific communication campaigns into your global communications calendar. Topics can include routine care reminders like annual physicals, flu shots or more holistic overviews of benefits resources.  
  • Educate your employees on the depth of telemedicine solutions available to them.  
  • Many health systems have invested in virtual service options in response to the pandemic. A benefit concierge can be a helpful resource to help your employees find a primary care physician that supports virtual care.
  • Foster good habits by creating a culture of wellness 
  • Offer home-based screening tests. 
  • Work with your broker to develop more strategies to encourage routine care.

Brown & Brown Can Help

At Brown & Brown, your people are our business. We work with you to build a premium benefits suite that works to address the needs of your workforce while providing holistic employee communication plans and innovative strategies. Connect with us today to learn more about how you can help improve routine care in your workforce.  

Employee Benefits Team