August 31, 2020

Americans’ health concerns extend beyond COVID, survey data shows

By Nika Kabiri, JD PhD

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Good health is good business, but good health is also subjective.

If all you did was listen to the news, you’d equate good health with wearing a mask and keeping your distance. But ask Americans what they actually think, and you’ll get a different answer.

Accolade and I recently partnered to run a series of surveys tracking attitudes across the United States regarding wellness, healthcare, being healthy at work, and managing COVID-19. Today, we’re excited to present some of the most striking results from our first rounds of survey data.

  1. When it comes to health care in the time of COVID, COVID isn’t everything.

    While 29% of Americans are worried about health care issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, many more - 47% - are worried about other issues.

    And it’s also not just physical health that matters: while 40% say they’re worried about their physical health, just as many (43%) are worried about their mental and emotional health. A recent study by the CDC echoes these findings: in late June, 41% of Americans reported having one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, such as anxiety or depression

    According to the CDC, many behavioral health challenges stem from coronavirus-related issues, implementing an across-the-board strategy for COVID management is still key. But once that is in place, employers should remember the holistic picture too.

    For further insights on how employers can help support their employees’ mental and emotional health during the pandemic, be sure to check out the executive summary of Accolade’s recent webinar on the topic.

  2. Americans are looking for alternatives to the doctor’s office, including the internet and telehealth.

    Half of Americans (52%) say they’d delay getting a regular check-up until the pandemic is over, and half (53%) also say they’d delay surgery, lab tests, or other scheduled procedures.

    That’s a lot of people putting off going to the doctor.

    But they’re not putting off their health care altogether. Four in ten (44%) say they’re more open to alternative sources of treatment now than before the pandemic began, and 46% say they rely more on the internet these days for medical information.

    I’m not alone in searching Google for “cough” and concluding that I have cancer. Unless you know what sources to trust and how to interpret what you read, you can freak out fast. Helping employees navigate online health information would be valuable.

    More Americans are also using telemedicine (49% are using it more now than before the pandemic, and 57% say they’ll use it more in the future). But many may not be clear on the best ways to access telemedicine, or how they can get prepared for a telemedicine visit. This may be a great time to start educating your employees on how to use their telemedicine benefits, what telemedicine appointments do well – like being a great source of reliable information - and where they can come up short, for instance not being a substitute for lab tests.

  3. Hidden costs may delay decisions to go to the doctor, as could finding a doctor that fits.

    Going to the doctor is as important as it ever was, but many Americans are finding that the pandemic has introduced or worsened barriers to accessing care. And when barriers are high, indecision and delayed care become more likely.

    Employers have tools that can help lower those barriers, though. Chief among them is that employers and insurers can help people find the right doctor for them. Of those surveyed, 65% say they worry about hidden costs or fees when deciding on the right medical care, and 55% say they’re likely to seek the help of medical professionals more often if they could find one that was a good fit.

    Whatever you choose to do, make sure your support puts your employees in the driver’s seat. Research has revealed that improved mental health can stem from having control over your decisions. And these days, when things seem so out-of-control, empowering your employees with agency can go a lot way.

    Interested in learning how Accolade can help your employees access the care they need? Check out our solutions page.

Dr. Nika Kabiri is a Decision Science specialist and business consultant who helps businesses make better decisions and better influence the decisions of others. She teaches Decision Science at the University of Washington and has over a decade of experience helping clients understand consumer decision-making. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Washington and a JD from the University of Texas. Learn more at www.kabiriconsulting.com.

Research methodology: We ran two online surveys of U.S. adults: from June 30-July 3, and from July 29-July 30. We obtained responses from 1000 Americans per survey.