Poll: 50% of patients still skip dental visits due to COVID-19

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About half of adults reported they or a family member skipped dental and medical visits due to COVID-19 in a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), despite a surge of people leaving home more frequently to shop, visit family, and work.

In the poll, 52% of adults said they or a family member in their household skipped or delayed dental or medical care due to COVID-19 during recent months; that figure is 4% higher than it was in May. The KFF Health Tracking Poll - June 2020 was released on June 26 and included responses from about 1,300 people.

"Dental care was the most likely to be skipped or postponed, followed by regular checkups or physical exams," according to KFF.

A majority of practices have reopened in the U.S. for all or some dental procedures. Those that opened weeks ago have seen patient volumes tick up each week, with some reporting close to business as usual. Experts in the industry have said this is a good sign, but real recovery will hinge on whether patients keep returning to their dental chairs or just visited to regain a sense of normalcy.

About 80% said they didn't get dental or medical care due to providers being closed or having limited appointments. This was the most common reason cited. However, about half of those who reported skipping or postponing visits said they didn't go because they didn't feel safe going to those facilities.

People in certain demographics were more likely to skip scheduled care. Women, older adults, and those with higher incomes were the most likely to skip or delay care, the poll showed.

KFF noted that those with lower incomes or without insurance coverage in general may use less care under normal circumstances and, therefore, may be less likely to report delaying visits due to COVID-19.

People aren't rushing to get dental or medical care, but they are venturing out more often. While only 30% of people went to visit close family or friends at least once during the week of April 15, 54% did so during the week of June 8, according to the poll.

The same is true for work. In April, 33% went to work, but that number jumped to 45% in June, the poll showed.

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