From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: March 20, 2009
WASHINGTON, March 20 — One patient in four with a chronic condition has postponed healthcare or filling a prescription in the past year because he cannot afford it, researchers here said.
Latinos (43%) and middle-age women (39%) are among those more likely to report delaying care, according to a survey by the National Council on Aging.
Although the poor are more likely to report delaying care, 22% of patients with household incomes above $50,000 have done so, according to the survey.
Those who have put postponed treatment are also more likely to be in frequent physical pain (45% versus 28% of those who have not delayed care), to be fatigued (49% versus 28%), and to be stressed (40% versus 17%).
The survey — conducted between Jan. 5 and Jan. 30, 2009 among 1,109 adults ages 44 and up with at least one chronic condition — is a snapshot of patients living with chronic conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes.
The survey included an oversample of those 65 and older (n=594 total), as well as an oversample of Latinos (n=142 total). The margin of sampling error for the total results is +2.9 percentage points.
Many report dissatisfaction with the care they receive. Some 44% wish their physician had more time to spend talking to them about their condition, and 45% said they never get referrals to important chronic care resources such as counselors and health educators.
Nearly a third report leaving their physician’s office confused about what they should do regarding their care, and many say their providers aren’t doing anything to improve their care.
About 57% said their physicians have not asked whether they have help at home to manage their problems, and 45% said they rarely or never receive referrals to support services such as classes, counselors, or health educators.
Many patients are living with several chronic diseases: 68% report having two or more conditions and 20% have four or more.
Those with one chronic condition are healthier, have higher incomes, and have more support at home; while those with multiple conditions tend to have low incomes and less support.
Half of those with chronic conditions are unhappy or depressed at least occasionally because of their health problems, and 32% report having to cut back on social activities. A little more than a quarter report having to miss work.
Almost 40% of patients said they do not have the money to begin improving their health, a percentage that is particularly high among Latinos (63%), African Americans (58%), the poor (65%) and those with four or more chronic conditions (59%).
However, 70% said learning how to exercise or eat better in ways that work with their limitations would help them cope, and 68% say getting advice from others with similar conditions would help as well.
Fifty-six percent of Americans 44 and older with chronic conditions are Internet users — and of these, 63% say they would be interested in going to Web sites sponsored by health organizations to get information and support.
Even 27% of those who rarely or never use the Internet say they would be interested in going to Web sites for information and support.
Nancy Whitelaw, senior vice president of the Center for Health Aging at the National Council on Aging, said the report highlights the need to reform the healthcare system in order to support patients with chronic conditions.
“We encourage physicians not to take on the responsibility themselves, but to build a mechanism to refer patients to community-based health education programs that are effective,” Whitelaw said.
She added that physicians can help connect patients to such programs via a community agency that deals with the aging.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If it is happening in the USA, it must be happening here in the UK. This must also apply to visits to the opticians and the dentist. We can no longer afford luxuries, so health must be the next concern to be hit by the credit crunch. The offending financiers have a lot to answer for….Now is the time to make all prescriptions free before the UK falls apart at the seams. There is an old saying which tells us that health and happiness are more important than wealth. Are you listening Mr.B? You have helped everyone else – you can at least do this for the people Mr.B.! Write to your MP and put some pressure on the Government! JH
The survey was funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the California HealthCare Foundation.
Primary source: National Council on Aging
Source reference: “Reforming healthcare: American speak out about chronic conditions and the pursuit of healthier lives” NCOA 2009.