Oct 15, 2020 - Health

Outpatient visits bounce back

Reproduced from The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Axios Visuals

Outpatient visits have returned to their pre-pandemic levels after declining by nearly 60%, according to a new analysis by the Commonwealth Fund.

Why it matters: The massive drop-off in people seeking medical care was bad both for providers and for patients, many of whom delayed care for conditions that may have worsened.

Yes, but: Visits vary by age, provider specialty and insurance type.

  • Visits by young children still are still well below the baseline.
  • And while dermatology and adult primary care visits are substantially up, behavioral health and cardiology visits remain down.

What we're watching: Telemedicine visits initially surged, but have since dropped off. However, they're still above pre-pandemic levels, and experts predict that this may be a lasting side effect of the pandemic.

Related: As people return to their doctors, health insurers will have to start paying claims again.

  • UnitedHealth Group's profit in the third quarter dipped 10% as people sought health care at rates "more closely approaching normal," executives said on an earnings call yesterday.
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