More than a quarter of older adults opt not to get the health care they need because the cost is too high, according to new survey data from FAIR Health.
The New York-based health care transparency nonprofit – under a grant from The John A. Hartford Foundation – commissioned two surveys about health care costs and decision-making late last year. One survey sought answers from adults over 65 years old, while the other was for caretakers and families of seniors. The results were published earlier this month.
The survey found 26% of seniors overall routinely put off health care services due to cost, and that number rose to 32% of older adults whose household income is under $50,000 per year.
Additionally, 25% of seniors reported they “never” know the cost of the care they recieve before receiving their bill, and 35% find it “somewhat hard” or “very hard” to get cost information before receiving health care.
“There is a palpable appetite, for patients and their families and caregivers, for information that helps them make sound decisions about their care,” said FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd. “They are encountering obstacles in that journey to acquire that information.”
Gelburd also emphasized the portion of the data regarding shared decision-making. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines shared decision-making as “a model of patient-centered care that enables and encourages people to play a role in the medical decisions that affect their health.” Gelburd defines shared decision-making as “an attempt to engage patients and families with different choices about their clinical care.”
Gelburd said the cost of care is often left out of conversations between patients and providers.
The survey found 45% of seniors have an interest in shared decision-making with their health care providers. However, 29% reported never having engaged in shared decision-making discussions, with 41% of seniors reporting they “always” or “often” had those conversations, and 31% reporting they engage “every now and then.”
Gelburd says this data is useful because it lets providers know there’s an interest on the part of patients in the shared decision-making process, and both the patient and the provider can benefit from the process.
“It would be a win-win for both parties,” Gelburd said.