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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.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 16, 2021 - Health

Majority gives Dems new health care goals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A narrow Democratic majority increases the odds that significant health care legislation could become law.

What they're saying ... The Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt listed health policies that Democrats may enact with a Senate majority:

  • Nullifying the pending GOP lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
  • Making ACA premiums more affordable.
  • Offering incentives for states to expand Medicaid.
  • Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.
  • Eliminating cost-sharing for coronavirus treatment.

Who to watch: Most Democratic policymaking on health care will come from the administration — specifically President-elect Biden's pick to head up the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.

  • Biden has also announced a task force, led by Marcella Nunez-Smith, on racial disparities in health care — a longstanding problem that got more urgent during the pandemic. 

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

Pelosi slams GOP leadership's moves against Liz Cheney

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week condemned Republican efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair.

Why it matters: A number of Democrats have spoken out against attempts to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Trump, framing the discussion as one essential to the maintenance of American democracy.