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COVID-19 highlights access-to-care challenges

Unemployment rises, increasing need for low-cost care

Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, chief executive officer at the Idaho Humane Society, has noticed an increase in the number of clients coming into the hospital who can’t afford veterinary care. The increase is likely tied to the rise in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have the impression that the people coming in are situationally under duress—the hopefully temporarily poor,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “Qualitatively, our impression is we have a whole lot more people in our communities who can’t afford care.”

He sees similarities between what is happening now, as people continue to lose their jobs or are unable to find work, and what happened during the Great Recession.

“It is a general sense that people don’t look low income on paper but have no money. Folks are coming to us for urgent care, and they’re asking for reduced costs.”

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