Study: U.S. Has High Percentage of Older Adults with Chronic Conditions

January 27th, 2016

U.S. healthcare costs are disproportionately concentrated among older adults with multiple chronic conditions and/or functional limitations. In fact, the disparities are particularly pronounced when comparing the United States to eight other countries. In addition, these same older adults face issues with paying for their care. This is the finding of the Commonwealth Fund.

The Commonwealth Funds’ latest analysis, included in the article “How High Needs Patients Experience the Health Care System in Nine Countries,” found that the United States has the highest percentage of older adults with three or more chronic conditions at 42 percent. This is higher than the same rate for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Canada ranked second with 28 percent, a statistically significant variation from the US’s 42 percent. The report authors define “high needs” as those 65 years and older with at least three chronic conditions or functional limitation in activities of daily living such as dressing or bathing.

More than one in five high-needs adults faced cost problems when trying to access needed care. This includes having a medical problem, but not visiting the doctor, skipping recommended tests, or skipping or not filling prescriptions. 22 percent of high needs adults reported this as an issue in the United States, the highest rate among all countries surveyed. [Source: The Commonwealth Fund, January, 2016]

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