As number of COVID-19 cases rises, many Americans fear costs of care, testing

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Many consumers fear the cost of COVID-19 testing or care. (Getty/seksan mongkhonkhamsao)

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, many consumers are concerned about whether they could afford tests or treatment should they be diagnosed with the coronavirus. 

new poll from the Commonwealth Fund and NBC News surveyed 1,006 people and found 68% of Americans say the potential out-of-pocket costs associated with tests or treatment would be either very or somewhat important in their decision to seek care. 

Democrats were more likely to express concerns about cost, according to the poll, with 73% saying it would play a role in their decision. More than half (58%) of Republicans said the same. 

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Seventy percent of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 64, who are at a lower risk of contracting the virus, said cost would impact their decision to seek care—as did 60% of people aged 65 and over, a potentially concerning finding for those high-risk adults. 

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In addition, 63% of people with insurance and 73% of those who are uninsured expressed concern about the cost, the survey found.

“There was no statistically significant difference between people with insurance and people without it—a sobering reflection of the healthcare costs Americans face even when they have coverage,” the researchers wrote.

The results track with a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found 36% of people are concerned they would not be able to afford COVID-19 testing or treatment, especially as the pandemic continues to strain the economy. Of that group, 19% said they were “very worried” the costs would not be affordable.

The number of people with concerns about costs skyrockets among the uninsured under 65 (66%) and Hispanic patients (64%), according to the survey. 

The KFF study, released about a week ago, found that 10% of workers had lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, many people have lost their jobs or had hours substantially reduced—with experts telling The Wall Street Journal that the outbreak could lead to up to 5 million jobs lost this year. 

“For many workers, the coronavirus pandemic is both a health and economic threat,” said KFF CEO Drew Altman.