By Sarah Purtill
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – According to a new report published by Health Affairs, United States senior citizens are sicker than the elderly in 10 other wealthy countries. The study found this despite the fact that American senior citizens have near universal health coverage through Medicare. The Analysis also stated that America’s senior citizens are more likely to face financial barriers than the senior citizens of those 10 other countries.
Based on the results of the study, one conclusion is that creating universal health care in the United States through a “Medicare-for-all” program would not necessarily lead to Americans of all ages to be on par with their international counterparts when it comes to health outcomes and costs.
The Health Affairs report is based on the 1017 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults. The survey questioned over 23,000 people. It included individuals from the United States, Germany, France, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Of those that participated in the survey, one in eight older adults reported having three or more chronic health conditions. But the United States had the highest of these numbers with 36% of those reporting having three or more chronic conditions. This is almost half of what Australia, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland reported. They had only 17% of those surveyed reporting three or more chronic conditions. New Zealand’s results were even lower at 13%.
Despite having Medicare, adults over the age of 65 frequently have trouble affording the care they need when they need it. The report stated that 23% of American senior citizens did not see a doctor when they were ill, skipped recommended treatment or tests and left prescriptions unfulfilled due to costs. Countries like France, Norway, Sweden and the U.K. only had 5% reporting the same because of costs.
Even still, Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said “Medicare is the most popular [health coverage] program in the United States in terms of satisfaction of the population that is covered by it.” He added that the level of satisfaction was high. He further stated that a significant share of the American senior citizens covered by Medicare are “underinsured” and/or do not have sufficient financial coverage for there medical needs. The issue with Medicare is that while it does cover a large amount of beneficiaries’ health services, senior citizens are responsible for some out of pocket expenses. The study suggests a lot of outcomes similar to this issue of Medicare.
For more information, please see:
Commonwealth Fund – Older Americans Were Sicker And Faced More Financial Barriers to Heath Care Than Counterparts in Other Countries – 15 November 2017
Health Affairs – Older Americans Were Sicker and Faced More Financial Barriers To Health Care Than Counterparts in Other Countries – 15 November 2017
Bernie Sanders – Medicare for All – 2016