People With Functional Disability and Access to Health Care During the COVID-19 PandemicThe COVID-19 Pandemic: A US Population-based Study

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INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide restriction measures have disrupted health care delivery and access for the general population. There is limited evidence about access to care issues (delayed and forgone care) due to the pandemic among people with disability (PWD). METHODS: This study used the 2020 National Health Interview Survey data. Disability status was defined by disability severity (moderate and severe disability), type, and the number of disabling limitations. Descriptive analysis and multivariate logistic regression (adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics) were conducted to estimate delayed/forgone care (yes/no) between PWD and people without disability (PWoD). RESULTS: Among 17,528 US adults, 40.7% reported living with disability. A higher proportion of respondents with severe and moderate disability reported delaying care than PWoD (severe=33.2%; moderate=27.5%; PWoD=20.0%, P<0.001). The same was true for forgone medical care (severe=26.6%; moderate=19.0%; PWoD=12.2%, P<0.001). Respondents with a moderate disability {delayed [odds ratio (OR)=1.33, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.19, 1.49]; forgone [OR=1.46, 95% CI=1.28, 1.67]} and a severe disability [delayed (OR=1.52, 95% CI=1.27, 1.83); forgone (OR=1.84, 95% CI=1.49, 2.27)] were more likely to report delayed medical care and forgone medical care compared with PWoD. These findings were consistent across the models using disability type and the number of limitations. CONCLUSIONS: PWD were more likely to experience COVID-19-related delays in or forgone medical care compared with PWoD. The more severe and higher frequency of disabling limitations were associated with higher degrees of delayed and forgone medical care. Policymakers need to develop disability-inclusive responses to public health emergencies and postpandemic care provision among PWD.

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Medical care

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