It was late March, the pandemic had sent many of us home from work and school, and businesses were closed or figuring out a way to be touchless. I was due for my annual skin check-up, but I decided to put it off, for a while, until the threat of getting COVID-19 by being anywhere but in my home was gone. But here it is 6 months later, and I still have not been to the dermatologist. Like me, a recent wave of ENGINE’s Pulse of the Consumer COVID-19 study revealed 55% of Americans have put off going to regular medical appointments due to the pandemic. Also like me, 87% of Americans have NOT lost their health coverage due to COVID-19. Doctors’ offices are open, health insurance is still in place for most of us, but many of us are not going.
This is not surprising, since 71% say they are concerned about contracting the coronavirus themselves (79% are concerned for someone in their family).
On the other hand, 45% of Americans would be willing to go to a restaurant in the next week. Meanwhile, the same number (46%) of Americans say they think they will be able to go back to getting the healthcare their family normally would get by the end of the year (2020 that is).
There is risk in going out these days, but it is interesting that while the majority of us are concerned for our health (or not getting the virus), less than half envision returning to taking care of their health by the end of the year. At the same time, the same number are willing to take on the risk to their health of going to a restaurant in the next week.
Why are we prioritizing going to restaurants and bars as much as (or more than) taking care of our health? Perhaps it is human nature to focus on getting the fun things back ahead of the maintenance tasks. But are we setting ourselves up for a boom in medical conditions that got out of control or went undetected during this pandemic?
Despite the majority of Americans’ concern about contracting the virus, 68% say that they think the US should continue to relax stay-at-home and social distancing requirements in order to boost the economy. While this seems contradictory to health concerns, it could be the result of the increasing majority of Americans who are concerned about their personal finances due to the coronavirus. It could also simply be that we are all very weary. We are concerned, frustrated, and trying to find ways to get back to a comfortable place.
According to ENGINE’s study, seven in ten are confident that life will return to close to normal once an effective vaccine is available. But, said differently, this means that nearly one in three Americans don’t see life returning to normal even after an effective vaccine is available. While this is a big number, it is bigger when you consider that the most are not exactly sure when we might be able to return to normal.
We Need to Get Back to the Doctor
It seems every day we are reading or hearing news stories about restaurants and bars trying to find a way to re-open and make it safe for their patrons. At the same time, doctor’s offices have been changing protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of their patients who come to see them.
Just as restaurants have responded with curb-side pick-up and delivery services, doctors have been helping people get comfortable with telehealth, providing online materials and webinars for common self-care practices, and communicating the new health-safety protocols in the doctor’s office.
While people are chomping at the bit for the return of fun normal things like going to restaurants and sporting events, we need to all recognize that we should be chomping at the bit to take care of our health too. Keeping current with preventative care can catch problems early and taking care of more serious issues now can reduce the risk that they do us more harm than necessary.
I can’t wait for my favorite Italian restaurant around the corner to open again for indoor seating, but I really cannot justify waiting to make an appointment for a skin check-up.