US Health Care Crisis: Adults Are Still Skipping Health Care Postpandemic

Patients believe that PAs can be part of the solution to the health care crisis in the US.

Adults in the US spend an average of 8 hours per month managing health care for themselves and their family/loved ones, nearly half are skipping or delaying care, and 65% feel that managing their health care is overwhelming and time-consuming, according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA).

The most common reasons why 44% of US adults have skipped or delayed needed care in the past 2 years are cost concerns (40%) and inability to take time away to see a provider because of other responsibilities (30%). Latino adults were more likely to report skipping or delaying care (53%). Nearly all respondents said that PAs increase access to care and make it easier to get a medical appointment, suggesting that PAs can be part of the solution to the US health care crisis.

Other Key Findings

73% say the health care system fails to meet their needs in some way
71% worry that the demands on health care providers are too great
68% are concerned that health care workforce shortages will impact them or their family/loved ones
66% of adults feel that health care providers seem more rushed than they have been in the past
61% say they only seek health care when they are sick
47% think their health care providers appear to be burned out/overburdened

The findings are based on responses from 2519 US adults aged 18 years or older to an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll between February 23 and March 9, 2023. 

Long Wait for Appointments Reported

On average, patients who cannot get an appointment in the same week wait 3.9 weeks for needed medical appointments. Delay of care was commonly reported. Interacting with the system – including paying for medical services – was cited as a key factor in why people delay care.

PAs are committed patient advocates, and to be a voice for patients, we must first understand the barriers patients face …

Respondents also reported not always feeling listened to or seen by health care providers, with 64% saying they wish health care providers took more time to understand them. More than two-thirds (67%) believed their health would improve if they regularly worked with a health care provider they trusted and 54% said their health would improve if health care providers helped them navigate the health care system.

The Value of PAs in Reducing the Health Care Crisis

The survey also asked respondents about their experiences with PAs and their perception of PAs’ potential to impact the health care system. Key findings include the following:

  • 92% support utilizing PAs to address health care workforce shortages
  • 91% say PAs provide safe and effective care
  • 91% support updating PA practice laws to allow states and health care systems to fully utilize their health care workforce
  • 89% say PAs improve patient outcomes
  • 79% rate the medical care they received from a PA in the past 12 months as good or excellent

“So much has changed in health care since the pandemic, and the focus has largely been on the strain that health care teams are experiencing,” said AAPA CEO Lisa M. Gables, CPA. “PAs are committed patient advocates, and to be a voice for patients, we must first understand the barriers patients face, how that impacts their day-to-day life, and the long-term effects on both individuals and the health care system at large.”

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor


US adults spend 8 hours monthly coordinating healthcare, find system “overwhelming”. News release. May 17, 2023. American Academy of Physician Associates.