Aging Options

America falls behind in medical care for the elderly

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An International Survey of older adults found that most advanced industrialized countries have shortcomings in access, coordination and patient-centered care but Americans are at the back of the pack.  The study found that out of 11 countries, Americans have the most trouble paying medical bills and that nearly 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from two or more chronic diseases.  Despite the fact that American seniors are younger on average than the senior populations of other countries, we are sicker than other seniors.  What we do right includes having a care plan for chronic illness and planning for end-of-life care.

The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation surveyed more than 15,000 seniors by phone.  Seniors from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The findings included:

  • 19% of Americans 65 and older skipped needed health care because of high out-of-pocket costs, a number double that of New Zealand which ranked second-highest in that category (in Norway and Sweden, only 1% struggled to pay medical bills).
  • Only 57% of older U.S. adults could get same-day or next-day doctor’s care when sick (83% of older adults in France and New Zealand could get care the same or next day).
  • 87% of U.S. adults 65 and older have at least one chronic disease and 68% have at least one, whereas only 49% of Germans have two or more chronic illnesses.

Read more about the study here.

Your health is your most important asset.   Caring for that asset should be at the top of your priority list because once it slips, you’ll be forced to spend far more time and effort on the repercussions of poor health.  Those repercussions include giving up control on where you live in the last half of your life, whether or not you’ll be a burden and whether or not you can protect your assets.


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