Americans older than 65 are more likely to have chronic illnesses and to say they struggle to afford health care – despite qualifying for the federal Medicare program – than are seniors in other industrialized countries, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.
Study finds poor coordination between caretakers such as regular physicians and specialists is one factor compromising Medicare beneficiaries receiving high-quality care.
The findings, which are based on phone surveys conducted in 11 industrialized countries, highlight gaps in Medicare coverage that should be addressed, said Donald Moulds, one of the study’s authors and executive vice president for programs at the fund. Among the specific findings:
— 87 percent of U.S. respondents 65 or older indicated having one chronic condition and 68 percent had two or more. Canada was the next highest, with 83 percent having one disease and 56 percent having two or more.
— 19 percent of United States respondents reported cost as an obstacle in getting care last year. The next highest rate was in New Zealand, with 10 percent.
— 55 percent said it “somewhat or very easy” to get care after hours, a figure that was higher in all countries but Sweden, Canada and Australia.
— American respondents were among the most likely to have discussed with a physician healthy lifestyles and end-of-life planning.
— While each nation’s health system had strengths, the survey highlighted room for improvement across the board.The study, which comes in the midst of Medicare’s open enrollment season, may provide beneficiaries with key factors to consider as they review their coverage choices.
On average, beneficiaries with traditional Medicare will end up spending more than $4,000 per year on out-of-pocket health costs, Moulds said, a level of cost-sharing much higher than that seen in comparable nations. Read more