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Trends and Disparities in Pandemic Telehealth Use among People with Disabilities

Publication Date
Madjid Karimi, Lok Wong Samson, Sara J. Couture, Trinidad Beleche, Helen Lamont, William Marton, Scott R. Smith, Nancy De Lew, and Tom Buchmueller

This Issue Brief explores telehealth use for people and Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities and examines questions on the use of audio-only telehealth during the second and third years of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The study used data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) COVID-19 2021 Winter Supplement and 2022 surveys, ASPE’s Medicare Telehealth Trends Dashboard, and the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS).

Telehealth was widely utilized during the pandemic to support access to care, with higher use among people with disabilities than those without disabilities. However, despite the increased use of telehealth for all populations, overall rates of care declined during the pandemic with a greater rate of decline among people with disabilities. Audio-only telehealth comprised most of telehealth interactions among people with disabilities and older adults, a common finding across national surveys, which suggests this telehealth modality is needed to maintain access to care among these populations. People with mobility disabilities had the highest rates of telehealth use, while people with hearing disabilities had the lowest, suggesting that telehealth platform requirements and policies may need to be tailored in response to individuals’ communication needs.

*This content is in the process of Section 508 review. If you need immediate assistance accessing this content, please submit a request to Madjid Karimi, (202) 205-6576, Content will be updated pending the outcome of the Section 508 review.

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