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National Study Reveals Seniors Are Nervous about Future of Their Health Care
[March 13, 2018]

National Study Reveals Seniors Are Nervous about Future of Their Health Care


According to findings from a national study of 1,000 adults age 55+ released today by Alignment Healthcare (www.alignmenthealthcare.com) and international research firm Toluna, the majority (59 percent) of seniors are anxious about impending changes to their health care and more than two-thirds (70 percent) are worried about the future of Medicare and Medicaid. Approximately one in three is living with one or more chronic diseases. Three out of four want better information to improve their health, and they also want better technology to manage their health and access to their physicians.

According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seniors are the most expensive health care population (at 13 percent of population, they account for 34 percent of health care-related spending, or three times more than working-age adults each year). As the most regular users of health care services, they have significant concerns and fears about how they will manage their health and health care costs. They also have strong opinions about what they want and expect from their physicians and their health plans.

"As a health care company and health plan dedicated solely to the senior community, we help seniors address the challenges that come with navigating and improving the state of their health every day," said John Kao, CEO of Alignment Healthcare. "That's why our model of care is disrupting the industry's traditional standard of care delivery. Our technology-enabled predictive capabilities, disease management programs and concierge-like care put us at the forefront of solving senior health care challenges."

DESPITE OPTIMISM, SENIORS HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THEIR HEALTH AND HEALTH PLANS

  • More than half of all seniors 60+ (54 percent) cite "cost" as their top health care concern with more than one in three worrying about how to pay for services, and one in 10 not retrieving prescriptions, getting a recommended test or procedure, or seeing the doctor due to inability to pay the co-payments.
  • Equal to concerns about managing health care costs, 54 percent of seniors worry about getting the right medical treatment if they get seriously ill, with the highest degree of worry in the Midwest (58 percent) and among women (57 percent versus men at 51 percent).
  • More than two-thirds (70 percent) of adults 55+ are concerned about the future of Medicare and Medicaid. The most worried are 55-59-year-olds - the next generation eligible for Medicare - at 76 percent, compared to those 70+ at 66 percent.
  • Most of today's seniors (59 prcent) express worry, fear or anxiety over the future of senior health care based on changes underway or the government's role in health care.



THE CARE DELIVERY EXPERIENCE FOR SENIORS FAILS TO MEET DESIRE AND NEED

Twenty-eight percent of seniors say they live with one or more chronic conditions, with the top five being high blood pressure (65 percent), high cholesterol (55 percent), arthritis (53 percent), depression (32 percent) and diabetes (31 percent). Heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1 in 4 deaths), was cited by one out of five (1 in 5) seniors.


Seniors cite seeing their doctor regularly, with approximately 66 percent seeing their doctors every six months or more frequently (33 percent go every six months and 33 percent go every 2-3 months). However, seniors want more from those appointments. The time spent with their doctor can be fewer than 10 minutes per visit, and the appointments do not include the amount of information, treatment options, advice on ways to get healthier, or plain language the senior patient wants to take greater control of his or her health. More than half (54 percent) of those surveyed stated that they want more time with their doctor (which can equal less than 60 minutes a year even with 10 visits), with women (59 percent) wanting this more than men (49 percent).

The quality of interaction with their physician is also a priority for seniors. They want more education about their conditions and how to manage them, and they want it in easy-to-understand language:

  • 76 percent want more clear direction on how to improve their health
  • 63 percent want more education on how to care for a condition and treatment options
  • 60 percent want more understandable, everyday language than what they get today

SENIORS WANT TECH-ENABLED SERVICES TO BETTER MANAGE THEIR HEALTH AS THEY "AGE IN PLACE"

An important factor for seniors is how to manage their health while meeting their desire to age in place: 71 percent of those surveyed want to remain in their homes as they age, with about a third never expecting to engage the help of a caregiver and only 1 percent citing they get the help of their adult children. They cite desire for same-day appointments (approximately 30 percent) and other concierge-like services, such as in-home doctor appointments, home monitoring, tech-enabled interface with their doctors, complimentary transportation to their appointments, and mail delivery of prescriptions as considerations.

Seniors believe technology will be key to advances in medicine. Eighty percent of adults 55+ believe technology will improve health care in the next five years by delivering faster and more accurate diagnoses, curing diseases, and predicting and preventing diseases and conditions before they happen.

But 35 percent of seniors feel their health plans do not use any technology to improve access, information or care and want more tech-enabled solutions. Top on their wish list are: ability to see a doctor on demand (anywhere/anytime) via web-enabled devices, electronic record keeping, monitoring technology that can look at one's vitals or even predict a negative outcome and intervene, and the ability to send email messages and images to one's doctor.

ABOUT THE RESEARCH

This national research study looked at the opinions of adults 55+. It was fielded online Feb. 5-8, 2018, by Toluna and Alignment Healthcare. Respondents included more than 1,000 seniors in three cohorts: 55-59, 60-69, and 70+. Statistic validity is at the 95 percent level.

ABOUT ALIGNMENT HEALTHCARE

Alignment Healthcare has created a new model for health care delivery that cuts costs and improves lives by unraveling the inefficiencies of the current system to drive patients, providers and payers toward a common goal of wellness. Harnessing best practices from Medicare Advantage, the company's innovative data-management technology allows it to commit to caring for seniors exclusively, with special emphasis on treating the chronically ill and frail. With offices and care centers across the country, Alignment Healthcare provides partners and patients with customized care and service where they need it and when they need it, including clinical coordination, risk management and technology facilitation. Alignment Healthcare offers HMO plan options to California residents through the Alignment Health Plan, and partners with select health plans in North Carolina and Florida to help deliver better benefits at lower costs. For more information, visit alignmenthealthcare.com.

ABOUT TOLUNA

Toluna is one of the world's leading insights companies with one of the largest online panels of 16+ million consumers. The company is headquartered in Wilton, Conn., and serves clients around the globe through offices in more than 61 countries.


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