More than a third of Texans say they or someone in their household have skipped or postponed some type of medical care because of COVID-19, according to an October Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) survey that explored attitudes about COVID-19.
The report confirms observations by Texas Medical Association physicians that COVID-19 has weakened preventive medical care over the last six months at a time when many Texans continue to go without insurance coverage.
The survey also showed that 59% of Texans are very or somewhat likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available, but interest in a vaccine differs among racial groups and along partisan lines.
“Texans’ Views on the COVID-19 Pandemic” sought opinions on a variety of subjects tied to the disease’s impact, including health care, mental health, insurance coverage, and access to telemedicine.
On vaccines, it found that 64% of Hispanics, 59% of whites, and 49% of Blacks are very or somewhat likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is ready. Meanwhile, 72% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans are very or somewhat likely to get vaccinated.
The COVID-19 pandemic also has made more than half of Texans – 55% – more likely to get a flu shot, the survey found.
But results show many Texans are bracing for more bad news: About 46% worry about another wave of the disease; 44% believe the worst of the pandemic is yet to come.
Those concerns come as many Texans skip or postpone regular check-ups and preventive care, such as mammograms, child vaccinations and well visits, and visits for chronic conditions such as diabetes.
“Moreover, those who say that the pandemic has caused them and their family financial hardship are more likely to have skipped or postponed medical care,” study authors wrote. Also, “those under 65 who do not have health insurance are more likely to report that they have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 (74%) compared with those with health insurance (45%).”
About one in three Texans under age 65 – 29% – are currently without health insurance coverage, the survey found, and 8% of all Texans under 65 reported losing their coverage at some point during the pandemic. (In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Texas uninsured rate was 20.8%, the highest rate for any state in the country.)
According to the Episcopal study, about 43% of Hispanic Texans under 65 are more likely to lack insurance coverage than Black (27%) or white (20%) Texans.
Additionally, many Texans – 22% – cannot access telemedicine resources, the survey found. They either do not have a computer, tablet, or smartphone with internet access; do not know how to talk with a physician online; or cannot access the internet to talk with a doctor. Older Texans and those with lower incomes are more likely to face challenges accessing telemedicine resources.
Find more tools, resources, and information on TMA’s COVID-19 Resources page, which is continually updated.