10 Feb Many Adults Approaching Retirement Avoid Medical Care Because of Cost Concerns
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc, FACP
Holder of the Grace H. Elta MD Department of Internal Medicine
Early Career Endowment Award 2019-2024
University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine
Divisions of General Medicine and Hospital Medicine
and Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: While U.S. adults age 50-64 previously had more limited options for health insurance before Medicare at age 65, the Affordable Care Act expanded the number of options, including Marketplace plans (e.g., through HealthCare.gov) and Medicaid. This expanded set of options may complicate decisions about health insurance near retirement. In addition, several policy challenges to the Affordable Care Act may add uncertainty to the decision-making process.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In this survey conducted with the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, we found that almost half (45%) of adults age 50-64 had low confidence in being able to afford health insurance in retirement, and over two-thirds (68%) were concerned about potential changes to their health insurance associated with changes in federal health policy. Individuals in their 50s and 60s who were worried about the affordability of health insurance in retirement were almost 3 times as likely to avoid medical care or avoid filling a prescription because of cost concerns.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Seeking regular medical care is critically important for adults in their 50s and 60s, to prevent and treat health conditions. The study findings highlight that many adults in this age group are unfortunately worried about affording health insurance and avoid care because of costs. It is clear health care is a top concern for people in their 50s and 60s and that national policy solutions are needed to ensure stable and affordable health care.
For readers deciding what health insurance to have during retirement, there are ways to keep costs down. We recommend talking with an employer or health insurance navigator to figure out the most affordable plan for you. We also recommend talking about cost concerns with your doctor, who may be able to offer alternative medications or treatments at lower cost.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: As more changes or challenges to health insurance policy occur, future research should continue to survey adults in their 50s and 60s about affordability and availability of health insurance and health care.
Any disclosures?: The National Poll on Healthy Aging is sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine.
Tipirneni R, Solway E, Malani P, et al. Health Insurance Affordability Concerns and Health Care Avoidance Among US Adults Approaching Retirement. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(2):e1920647. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20647
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