Changes in health-related quality of life scores among low-income patients on social welfare programs in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic: a single-center repeated cross-sectional study

Low-income is one of the well-established determinants of people’s health and health-related behavior, including susceptibility to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. Two social welfare services are available in Japan to support financial and medical care among low-income patients: Public Assistance (PA), which provide both minimum income and medical costs; and Free/Low-Cost Medical Care (FLCMC), wherein only medical costs were covered. In this study, changes in Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) scores of low-income patients on PA and FLCMC, before and after COVID-19 pandemic, were described and compared against those that are not utilizing the said services (comparison group) to evaluate the contribution of social welfare services in protecting the HRQOL of the beneficiaries during the pandemic.