Coronavirus Concerns Led More Than 1 in 10 Nonelderly Adults to Delay or Forgo Health Care in Spring 2021

A doctor examines a teenage patient.

More than 1 in 10 adults delayed or missed out on health care in Spring 2021.



The Issue

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about exposure to the coronavirus still affect health care decision-making for some adults in America.

Key Findings

Using data from Urban Institute’s April 2021 Health Reform Monitoring Survey, researchers report that in April 2021, more than 1 in 10 nonelderly adults reported delaying or going without health care in the past 30 days due to fear of virus exposure. Additionally, nearly 1 in 10 parents delayed or did not get care for their children for the same reason. Hispanic/Latinx and Black adults, as well as those with lower incomes, delayed care at even higher rates.

Findings include:

  • Hispanic/Latinx and Black adults delayed or did not get care at higher rates than White adults (16.2% and 13.3% versus 8.7%).
  • Adults with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level were more likely than those with higher incomes to avoid care (14.9% versus 8.2%).
  • Adults with multiple chronic health conditions were more likely than adults with no conditions to report unmet care needs (16.7% versus 7.6%).

Among parents with children under 19:

  • 9.2% of parents reported they had delayed or forgone at least one type of care for their children in the past 30 days over worries about exposure to the coronavirus, and 5.5% reported their children had missed out on multiple types of care for this reason.
  • Parents with family incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level were more likely than those with higher incomes to report delaying or forgoing care for their children (12.3% versus 6.5%).


Missing vital health appointments, especially preventive care and other specialty services, can adversely affect health and other daily activities for both children and adults. Government, physicians, and insurers can spread the word by explaining to people how important it is to get the care they need in a timely manner.

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.