America’s Seniors Have More Health Problems When Compared Globally
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
A recent international survey found that adults age 65 and older in the Untied States are sicker than the senior citizens in ten other high-income nations. The survey also revealed that American seniors face greater financial challenges regarding their health care, despite the coverage Medicare provides.
The survey, conducted by The Commonwealth Fund, found that American seniors are sicker than seniors in other countries:
America: Thirty-six percent (36%) of older Americans report having three or more chronic conditions
Canada: Close to one in four Canadian seniors, the next sickest nation, report having three or more chronic conditions
New Zealand: The healthiest nation only had 13% report having three or more chronic conditions
The survey also addressed financial challenges to health care and found that American seniors face greater financial challenges than seniors in other countries:
America: Twenty-three percent (23%) of seniors report that because of the cost, they did not visit a doctor when sick, skipped a recommended test or treatment, did not fill a prescription, or skipped medication doses
France, Norway, Sweden, and UK: Five percent (5%) or fewer seniors reported these cost barriers as being an inhibitor to meeting their health needs
America: Twenty-two percent (22%) of American seniors report spending $2,000 or more for medical care in the past year
All other countries (except Switzerland): Fewer than ten percent (10%) of seniors spent as much as $2,000
There may be several reasons why American seniors are sicker and face greater financial challenges. One reason is Americans have much higher rates of obesity compared to other nations due to lack of exercise and eating too much unhealthy food. The Stanford Center on Longevity Sightlines Project reports that only one in four Americans eats the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Sixty-three percent (63%) of Americans aged 65 to 74 do not exercise the recommended 150+ minutes each week and thirty-seven percent (37%) of that age group are obese.
As to the financial burdens, Medicare has much higher deductibles and co-payments than the health insurance plans in other nations. American seniors pay more for prescription drugs than seniors in other nations, partially due to Medicare’s restriction on negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies.
This survey reveals the importance of taking care of your health and being prepared financially as you get older. It is important to eat a balanced diet, exercise a proper amount, maintain a healthy weight, get enough sleep, and stop smoking. These factors can improve your health now and especially as you get older. It is also good to remember that while Medicare provides a base level of health care, you may want to consider supplemental health coverage. If you or a loved one is already facing, or will soon be facing, the financial burdens of senior health care, please contact one of our experienced elder care attorneys to help you protect your assets and plan for the future.