Older Americans Were Sicker And Faced More Financial Barriers To Health Care Than Counterparts In Other Countries
Author: Robin Osborn, Michelle M. Doty, Donald Moulds, Dana O. Sarnak, Arnav Shah
High-income countries are grappling with the challenge of caring for aging populations, many of whose members have chronic illnesses and declining capacity to manage activities of daily living. The 2017 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults in eleven countries showed that US seniors were sicker than their counterparts in other countries and, despite universal coverage under Medicare, faced more financial barriers to health care. The survey’s findings also highlight economic hardship and mental health problems that may affect older adults’ health, use of care, and outcomes. They show that in some countries, one in five elderly people have unmet needs for social care services—a gap that can undermine health. New to the survey is a focus on the “high-need” elderly (those with multiple chronic conditions or functional limitations), who reported high rates of emergency department use and care coordination failures. Across all eleven countries, many high-need elderly people expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of health care they had received.