A second, hidden pandemic will follow covid-19. We need to plan for it.

Our office, like those of most primary care doctors, is usually packed. I run around, trying to fit 30 minutes of conversation into 20-minute appointments so I can see 12 patients in four hours while juggling paperwork and phone calls. But last week was different. As waves of covid-19 patients flooded hospitals one mile south, my office went quiet. I had formal appointments with just two patients.

My experience is not unique. Doctors’ offices across the country have emptied. Many practices, including mine, have canceled practically every routine appointment and elective surgery that can possibly wait to avoid exposing patients to covid-19. Millions of Americans have lost jobs, and with them, health insurance and a stable income to pay out-of-pocket health-care costs. Patients who are older and those with chronic illnesses are justifiably afraid to venture into health-care settings and risk contracting covid-19.

The Washington Post