Inflation doesn’t just hit the people at the grocery store or the mall. A new report from Deloitte shows that it also affects how consumers approach their health care.

To understand how inflation affects consumers’ views of healthcare spending, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions conducted two nationally representative surveys of consumers. The company found that more than 70 million Americans feel they are not ready to pay for healthcare in the next year.

“Healthcare prices have historically risen faster than the rest of the economy, but this year it has reversed,” said Darre, leaving people with less money available for their healthcare needs.

The report found that concerns about inflation are already affecting consumers’ health care decisions. Some delay routine care, cancer screenings, preventive care, and other basic medical needs.

For some individuals, this can lead to more severe health needs – and much higher costs – later on.

Darre noted that many people have postponed routine care as a result of this pandemic. “There is clearly a general concern for all of us that there may be some lag in preventive health. There has been some catching up last year, but not enough to keep up with all the testing, etc. that are required to get people involved (on their health),” said Harr. .

“So people started wondering how to deal with these unexpected costs and what’s the most appropriate thing. The smartest thing is to plan for them and figure out how to use their health plans and benefits in the smartest way possible,” Harr said.

An increase in telehealth

The rise in costs is prompting more and more people to search for new healthcare plans and those that include telehealth options.

The report found that 26 percent of consumers who do not have a health plan that covers virtual visits intend to change their health plans to accommodate it. Nearly two-thirds of consumers who made virtual healthcare visits last year cite convenience (38%) or cost (27%) as the most important reason for their search for virtual health.

The pandemic has accelerated the use case for telehealth, particularly in rural areas and low-income individuals. With the federal government allowing payments for virtual visits, and many health plans adopting the pandemic plan, the telehealth user base has risen briefly in the past two years.

Whether or not this continues in the coming years will be important to consumers, Harr said.

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