The web browser you are using will no longer be supported by Cigna.com. To continue accessing the site without interruption, please upgrade your browser to the most recent version.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and social distance policies, new research from Cigna finds that patients have deferred treatments for seven different acute clinical conditions, raising concerns that customers may be choosing to avoid the hospital due to fears of COVID-19 exposure.

“Reductions in hospitalizations for non-elective conditions such as acute coronary syndromes and transient ischemic attacks raise the possibility that patients may be deferring necessary elements of clinical care,” said Saif Rathore, MD PhD, Cigna’s Head of Data and Analytics Innovation. “We believe these data call for efforts to ensure patients continue to seek and access critical clinical care during the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

By examining U.S. commercial claims for inpatient treatment and authorization requests between February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and March 2020, Cigna compared rates of hospitalization, and found that rates of hospitalization had decreased.

“While variations are expected month to month, the results and the consistency of the decreased hospitalizations were striking,” said Rathore.

The seven conditions - acute coronary syndromes, acute appendicitis, aortic aneurysm and dissection, gastrointestinal bleed, epilepsy and seizure, transient ischemic attack, and atrial fibrillation – were selected because they all require immediate care. Extent of reductions varied from 11% for hospitalizations for acute coronary syndromes to over 30% for patients with transient ischemic attacks or atrial fibrillation.

Condition

February 2020

March 2020

Relative Reduction

Acute coronary syndromes

7.6

6.8

11%

Acute appendicitis

2.4

2.1

13%

Aortic aneurysm and dissection

0.8

0.6

22%

GastrointestinaI bleed

3.6

2.8

24%

Epilepsy and seizure

2.5

1.8

28%

Transient ischemic attack

0.7

0.4

31%

Atrial fibrillation

3.7

2.4

35%

“The breadth of these reductions suggest a pattern that is not confined to a single patient population, disease, or region,” said Glen Stettin, MD Cigna’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Additional research is needed to better understand the implications of these changes.”

Dr. Stettin added, “We made these findings public because we wanted to encourage anyone who has chest pains, shortness of breath and other serious symptoms to seek care. The risk of deferring care for such symptoms is much higher, and much worse than the small and theoretical risk of catching COVID19 as a consequence of seeking treatment.”

To learn more about what Cigna is doing to help customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center.

deferring-care-during-covid-19-1-16x9-lg