Expect wave of severe health problem diagnoses: Labcorp CEO

·2-min read

The coronavirus pandemic will leave long-lasting issues for Americans, some of whom might not know it yet.

The shutdowns that occurred throughout 2020 meant that many patients missed regular doctor's appointments. And when patients can’t regularly see their physicians, things often fall through the cracks.

“I think one of the [unforeseen] consequences of COVID is that people weren't diagnosed for things like cancer, for diabetes, [or] for other significant health problems,” Adam Schechter, Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LH), said during a discussion panel moderated by Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Andy Serwer as part of the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit. “And therefore, when they ultimately do go back for their checkup, it's going to be further along than it would have been if it were found earlier.”

Lorena Christie, 40, who is unhoused, has her blood pressure checked as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease pandemic continues, on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Lorena Christie, 40, who is unhoused, has her blood pressure checked as the coronavirus pandemic continues, on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A TIME-Harris Poll survey of 1,093 respondents conducted back in February 2021 found that 78% had put off some medical services within the last three months. The most frequently missed procedures included routine dental exams and cleanings (30%), annual physicals (27%), and eye exams (25%). And, 15% indicated they missed appointments with specialists.

"I do think there will be unfortunate health care consequences," Schechter said. "That's why we encourage people to go back to their health care system, go back to their physicians, get their checkups, their screening, and so forth. Because for a while that was, you know, about 50 to 60%, lower than normal."

According to one study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 15% of adults reported someone in their household unable to get elective medical care during the pandemic, leading to more than half of them experiencing negative health consequences as a result.

“There will be consequences,” Dr. Jerry Krishnan, professor of medicine and public health at the University of Illinois Chicago, told Wall Street Journal. “It’s particularly dramatic in lower-income, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations ... I think the consequences are going to show up in the coming years."

Thomas Hum is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thomashumTV.


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