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More access to health insurance during pandemic, but preventive care declined

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Data compiled from Grand Valley State University's annual Health Check Report

A new report from Grand Valley State University found that during the pandemic, 40 percent of residents in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan Counties delayed going to the doctor when they were sick, leading to an increase in poor health outcomes.

The report, released by Grand Valley's Seidman College of Business and Kirkhof College of Nursing, found that while access to health insurance surged between 2020 and 2022– particularly among non-white individuals – during the pandemic, preventative care management declined.

The report theorizes that the drop in getting medical treatment during the pandemic could have come from two factors: Patients feared going to the hospital or doctor’s office and and contracting the coronavirus coupled the fact that hospitals were at full volume during the pandemic and were postponing or rescheduling appointments.

However, delaying care or forgoing care not only increases morbidity and mortality risk associated with treatable and preventable disease, but it can contribute to excess deaths directly or indirectly related to the pandemic.

The report is compiled using data from insurance providers Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network and Priority Health along with information from the American Hospital Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources.

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