Access to health care for seniors in US is more difficult

This post concludes our 3-part series on the recent Commonwealth Fund study conducted on the condition of senior health care for Americans compared to senior health care in 10 other countries. We have already discussed the first two findings: US seniors are sicker than seniors abroad; and older Americans struggle to pay for health care. The third main finding of the study is that access to health care for seniors in the US is more difficult.

The study found that only 57 percent of American seniors were able to get same-day or next-day appointments when sick, compared with more than 80 percent in France, Germany and New Zealand. This lack of access could be why US seniors are near the top in emergency room use, 39 percent within the past two years according to the Commonwealth report.

However, the study did find some positive aspects of senior health care in the US.

  • American seniors say their doctors spend ample time with them (86 percent) and encourage questions (81 percent).
  • The US ranks highest in having health care professionals talk to seniors about healthy eating and exercise (76 percent).
  • Americans are also more likely than seniors in most of the countries surveyed to report they are receiving good guidance in managing their chronic illnesses.
  • The US does better than most on advance care planning. Americans over 65 are the most likely to say they have discussed having a health care proxy (78 percent) and to have actually named one (67 percent).
  • The US ranks second in seniors having a written plan describing their end-of-life wishes (55 percent).

So, it appears to be a mixed bag when it comes to senior health care in the US. Our seniors feel they are getting good advice; they are getting good face-time with providers; they have considered or identified a health care proxy; and have written end-of-life preferences. But US senior adults are sicker, pay more for care, and have more difficulty getting access to care. Overall, as Robin Osborn, director of the fund’s International Health Policy and Practice Innovations program and lead author of the study states, “Our seniors are more vulnerable.”

At Select Home Care Pasadena, we want to help our seniors live a healthy, long life in the comfort of their own home. Our staff and care givers want to help seniors overcome the challenges of more chronic illnesses, access to health care and the rising costs of health care. We want elder care in Pasadena, CA, to be easier for families. Please contact us to discuss home health care concerns you have for your senior loved one. Call us at 626-799-4855 or toll free at 888-990-7353.