Cancelled Care and Downstream Health: Evidence from the COVID-19 Shutdowns

Mar 8, 2021, 12:00 pm1:15 pm
Center for Health and Wellbeing
Students, Faculty & Fellows only
Event Description

Authors: Engy Ziedan, Kosali Simon, and Coady Wing

The U.S. health care system contracted substantially from both supply and demand side impacts during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we show using an electronic health records (EHR) database spanning 41 million unique patients (HealthJump) that volume of health services delivered fell by almost one third between Quarter 1 to Quarter 2 in 2020. We also find that very little of this decline was caused by state policies designed to limit non-essential health care delivery; rather, the declines seem to be largely related to informational and national events. Using EHR data on patient scheduling and the eventual receipt or cancellation of those services, we find that cancellation rates of health services scheduled in advance of the pandemic increased by 5.5 (Neurology and Urology)-27.4 percentage points (Colorectal Surgery) between February and March 2020 for a range of specialist visits. We exploit this sudden increase in cancelled care to study the causal effects of reductions in health care consumption on downstream measures of patient health and health care utilization through February 2021.


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