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How women experienced health care during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted all aspects of life, particularly how health care was accessed. But for women, who were harder hit financially than men, the impact on accessing care was more severe, illuminating long-standing inequities in the American healthcare system, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The survey, conducted toward the end of 2020, revealed that women were much more likely than men to skip healthcare appointments during the pandemic, “such as a yearly check-up or routine test (38% vs. 26%) or skipped a recommended medical test or treatment (23% vs. 15%),” the survey reads.

Skipping appointments for routine care and preventive screenings could result in more late-stage diagnoses later on, when diseases are harder to treat. The pandemic also flipped who was actually sticking with their healthcare appointments.

“In pre-pandemic times, the reverse was true, higher shares of women with lower incomes and who lacked insurance coverage reported skipping care,” the survey noted, as during the pandemic women with more resources tended to skip care out of fear of contracting the virus.

Access to care among the Hispanic population was also worse during the pandemic, with 40% of Hispanic women saying they skipped preventive health services, 36% revealing they couldn’t get an appointment and 13% who didn’t refill or skipped doses of medication.

When it came to getting birth control, the pandemic presented more trouble. Almost 10% of women ages 18-25 and 7% of women ages 26-35 said they delayed or couldn’t get birth control due to the pandemic––much higher than the 3% of women 36-49 who said the same.

Sadly, skipping care had a bad impact on women with underlying health and economic conditions, as these conditions worsened or were exacerbated by lack of access to care for many. When it came to Covid-19 testing, younger women, Black and Asian women, women with lower incomes were more likely to report not being able to get a Covid-19 test.

See the full survey results here.

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