Soundbite: ‘Don’t skip’ annual exams, screenings

Experts worry that employees avoiding preventive care during COVID-19 will result in a sharp rise in cancers, other conditions.
By: | January 29, 2021 • 2 min read

As the pandemic causes a significant number of workers to delay or avoid regular healthcare, one industry insider is urging employees to reconsider.

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“During this time, it’s very challenging to get into your physician or get your annual physical exam. But it’s super important,” Pam Hannon, retirement and healthcare leader at GE Healthcare, said Wednesday at the Midwest Business Group on Health’s Employer Forum on Wellness, Wellbeing & the Workplace, held virtually.

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“No one is super excited to get those reminders from their doctor that says, ‘Congratulations, you’re now eligible for a mammogram or colonoscopy or endoscopy,’” she continued. “But it’s very important. We all know that addressing something early is key and will us get better.”

Hannon’s message comes as many employers grow concerned over employees skipping annual wellness exams, regular care and needed screenings due to COVID-19 concerns. A survey of employers from the Midwest Business Group on Health found that organizations’ top concerns about workers postponing care are missing out on early diagnoses of conditions like cancer (cited by 27% of employers), poor management of current chronic conditions such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome (24%), increased risk for chronic diseases (22%), a spike in 2021 healthcare costs (16%) and decreased productivity and increased absenteeism (12%).

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Experts anticipate that the drop in preventive screenings and exams over the last year because of the pandemic will result in a sharp rise in cancers, cardiovascular disease and other serious conditions.

Related: Employers need to get ‘back on the path to good health’ now

“My recommendation for everyone is those physicals you need to do, those screening exams, don’t skip them,” Hannon said. “Get them on your calendar and make sure you’re taking care of yourself.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.