Have You Delayed Medical Care? You're Not Alone, Survey Says

Also featured: COVID-19 vaccines, telehealth's future, pharmacy trends and more

Editor’s note: Welcome to The PostScript Rewind, a biweekly recap of the latest in healthcare news. Featuring everything you need to know — none of what you don’t.

How’s the pandemic impacting healthcare? Depends on how you look at it.

For 40 percent of Americans, COVID-19 fears are leading them to defer medical care — an issue that’s increasingly concerning some health leaders.

In July, a group of 10 health organizations launched the “Stop Medical Distancing” campaign. The goal is to remind patients that social distancing doesn’t include medical distancing.

The virus and related fears are, in turn, affecting other parts of healthcare, too.

For instance:

• Health insurers are enjoying a huge profit upturn — thanks to patients, especially seniors, putting off care. (Even so, don’t count on lower insurance premiums just yet.)

Emergency room visits have dropped dramatically because of COVID-19, though hospital admissions from ER visits are up.

• With help from federal funds, some healthcare systems, like the Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, are seeing business ramping back up.

Is Dial-a-Doc Here to Stay?

Telehealth has kept millions of Americans in touch with their doctors by video or phone during the pandemic. In May, telehealth visits increased 5,680 percent from the previous year.

But is telehealth here to stay? One report says, Maybe.

Its future largely hinges on whether Medicare and private insurers will cover virtual visits when the pandemic subsides.

One company, Teledoc Health, is banking on the trend going on. It just reached an $18.5-billion deal to merge with Livongo, the diabetes-coaching company.

What’s the Latest on a Virus Vaccine?

• The race is on to develop and deliver a COVID vaccine. Johnson & Johnson just reached a $1-billion deal for 100-million doses, which could be given to Americans at no cost.

• Drug giant Pfizer’s CEO says by October clinical trials should show if its COVID vaccine is safe and effective. The company also has agreed to manufacture and supply Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug, remdesivir.

What’s Trending in Pharmacy News?

Most Americans are paying less out of pocket for prescriptions, with a record 90 percent of those final costs coming in under $20. This trend comes from increased use of generics and changes in health insurance benefits, among other developments.

• Another study found that Medicare Part D plans don’t push brand-name drugs but rather encourage using generic ones.

“Policymakers should continue to monitor Part D formulary coverage patterns to ensure consistent and generous coverage for generic drugs, given their important role in reducing prescription drug spending,” the researchers said.

• Consumers can head to the local drugstore for more services, thanks to a new CVS plan to offer everything from COVID testing to flu shots.

Tip of the Week

When it comes to medications, everyone knows to “take as directed.” But how do you remember to do that?

Here’s a quick tip from Eric Wu, ScriptHero clinical pharmacist:

“Take your medication at the same time every day. Make it a habit by tying it with another activity. If you have a medicine you need to take in the morning, for example, take it when you brush your teeth.”

Are you unemployed and uninsured? Find out how to save on healthcare or get healthcare coverage.

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Victoria Ellwood is a writer in central Ohio, where she writes about everything from academia, the arts and agriculture to healthcare, Shakespeare and small-town living. Her work’s been featured in Modern Farmer and magazines and websites for The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences, College of Nursing, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, University Libraries, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and Small Nation Strong.

This article was last updated August 17, 2020

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