The coronavirus pandemic has increased health-care costs in the U.S., while shifting how and where employees access care, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

It projected that the costs of medical treatment in the U.S. will increase by 6.5 per cent in 2022, slightly lower than this year (seven per cent). “The pandemic’s long tail may increase utilization and health-care spending in 2022 thanks to the return of some care deferred during the pandemic, the ongoing costs of COVID-19, increased mental-health and substance use issues and worsening population health,” said the report.

Read: Employers planning for post-pandemic future focusing on employee well-being, virtual health care

Citing results from a previous survey, the report found 15 per cent of U.S. employees with employer-sponsored health insurance had deferred, on average, 62 per cent of their care between March and September 2020, due to the pandemic.

A majority (79 per cent) said they’re open to chatting online through their health-care provider’s website and 76 per cent were willing to use a mobile app. Among the 29 per cent who’ve used virtual health services, 91 per cent said they’d use these services again and 18 per cent said they’d consider using them for emergency purposes.

And while only 18 per cent said they used a mobile app to help take a prescription drug correctly or to log their symptoms, 93 per cent of these respondents said it was a useful tool.

Read: One year later: How the pandemic sped up the shift to virtual mental-health care