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Older Adults Need More Help Navigating Health Care System

Better understanding of health insurance benefits may help with navigating health care system, survey finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — More than half of older nonretired adults need help understanding their health insurance benefits, according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Anthem Inc. and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).

The online survey was conducted from Nov. 8 to 18, 2018, and included 1,038 U.S. adults aged ≥60 years. A complementary online survey of caregivers was conducted from Dec. 18 to 20, 2018, and included 2,018 U.S. adults, of whom 770 provide support or counsel related to health care decisions to someone who is currently eligible for Medicare (aged ≥65 years or <65 years and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance).

The results of the survey show that 59 percent of older Americans find it difficult to navigate the health care system due to difficulty understanding their bill or benefits, communicating with their provider, understanding their diagnoses, or deciding on treatment. Older women are more likely than men to have challenges managing their care (65 versus 52 percent). Men are more likely than women to consult with their health insurer for help with navigating the health care system (31 versus 23 percent), but overall, more than half of nonretired older adults (54 percent) said that they need more help understanding their benefits. Nearly eight in 10 caregivers report that they would be better able to help the person they care for if they better understood their benefits.

“As the go-to organization for answers on aging at the local level, n4a’s members know how important it is to engage in dialogue with older adults and understand the barriers they confront in receiving the health care information that they need and deserve,” Sandy Markwood, the chief executive officer of n4a, said in a statement.

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