Study Advises of Health Hazards from Reduced Utilization Proactive Treatment in FEHB

Preventative medicine usage rose exponentially in the second half of 2020 and continued into the first half of 2021. However, this rise was insufficient to make up for procedures that were canceled during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdowns. This is still the situation.

A study conducted by the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) returned the following data:

– The number of people covered by the FEHBP national healthcare providers grew by 1.54 percent.

– The number of people in the study who had health insurance rose by another 1% between 2020 and 2021.

Even so, the OPM should see a normal rise in primary healthcare consumption of roughly 2-3% for 2021 relative to pre-pandemic rates in 2019. Though this rise in usage would signal a return to standard rates, it would not exactly make up for all the canceled treatments in 2020. This steady uptick was seen just between March and June of 2021.

Indeed, primary healthcare consumption maintained an average of 5% lower in 2021 than 2019 levels for most weeks. When COVID-19 cases peaked again in January 2022, fewer people sought preventive care. The growth in user enrollment is around 24-25 percent lower than anticipated, meaning about 59,000 preventive care treatments skipped just in January 2022.

Immunization Rate in Children

Certain preventative medicine providers are recovering to pre-pandemic rates while others are not. Preventive care vaccine rates for children remain lower than 2019 levels.

This is not a novel or previously unknown occurrence; it was addressed in our last half-yearly letter to Congress. The American Academy of Paediatrics, WHO, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Washington Post have all commented on the declining vaccination rates among children. Even though detentions in the United States are no longer happening and COVID-19 immunizations are easily accessible, we believe it is crucial to underline that these worrying patterns have still not been reversed. Specifically, the rate of childhood vaccinations in January 2022 was much lower than in any month in 2017, 2018, or 2019. Now that most kids are back in classrooms, there’s a much higher chance of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases amongst unvaccinated students.

The Frequency of Metastases in Several Cancers

Developments in the use of some regular cancer screening procedures have been included in our preventative medicine assessment in prior semi-annual reports to Congress and our preventive medicine services data summary. We raised the concern that if people have to wait longer to get these treatments, they will be diagnosed with cancer at a more advanced stage, requiring more intensive treatment with more severe risks.

Looking at the growth rates since 2017, we can see that overall cases of several forms of cancer decreased in 2020. These are the cancers for which there is established and generally accepted preventive care, at least for those at high risk. Because many neglected to schedule preventive medical exams, it stands to reason that they did not catch these tumors early. On the other hand, reports of kinds of cancer for which physical examination is not advised, like ovarian and pancreatic, did not decline in 2020.

Cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body is what is meant by the term “secondary neoplasm.” Our claim results indicate that the decline in preventative screenings in 2020 led to an increase in the incidence of secondary neoplasms among patients with types of cancer for which such screening is most effective in detecting new cases early before they have spread.

The excellent news is that the risk of developing a secondary neoplasm was low across the board when we looked at the different kinds of cancer. This minor increase translates to around 1,400 additional FEHBP members with metastatic cancer, raising the need for intensive therapies that can lead to the terrible side effects we outline in our preventative care data short. Therefore, we do not want to downplay their significance. However, we acknowledge that, at least for the time being, it seems that the impacts of the decline in preventive care usage since the start of the pandemic have not been as catastrophic as they could be.

Contact Information:
Email: [email protected]
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Rick Viader is a Federal Retirement Consultant that uses proven strategies to help federal employees achieve their financial goals and make sure they receive all the benefits they worked so hard to achieve.

In helping federal employees, Rick has seen the need to offer retirement plan coaching where Human Resources departments either could not or were not able to assist. For almost 14 years, Rick has specialized in using federal government benefits and retirement systems to maximize retirement incomes.

His goals are to guide federal employees to achieve their financial goals while maximizing their retirement incomes.

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