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Older Adults' Concerns Highlight Healthcare Cost and Access Challenges

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The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging recently conducted the survey focusing on the concerns of adults aged 50 and above regarding various health-related issues in their communities.

At no surprise, healthcare costs were listed as the top concern among older adults, with 56% of participants in a survey expressing high concern about the cost of medical care.

The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging recently conducted the survey focusing on the concerns of adults aged 50 and above regarding various health-related issues in their communities.

The findings shed light on the main worries surrounding access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, among other concerns.

While healthcare costs were presented as the highest concern among older adults, similarly, the cost of home care, assisted living, or nursing home care and prescription medications ranked high on the list, each garnering 56% and 54% of respondents' very high concerns, according to the study.

A report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College revealed that a notable portion of older used their retirement savings and Social Security benefits to pay for medical expenses when retiring.

According to the 2022 Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, the average retired couple at age 65 can expect to spend around $315,000 on healthcare expenses in retirement.

With these concerning costs, others were observed across various demographic groups, including gender, age, race/ethnicity, education level, income, political ideology and geographic location.

This highlights the effects of healthcare costs and financial scams and fraud on older adults' well-being and financial security.

Additionally, disparities were apparent when examining concerns across racial and ethnic groups.

For example, Black and Hispanic respondents were more likely to express high concern about discrimination by age or race and unequal access to healthcare, emphasizing the need to address inequalities within the healthcare system.

Gender and age differences were also a notable finding in the survey, with women and younger respondents aged 50–64 feeling a heightened concern about financial scams and fraud, dental care costs and social isolation.

Understanding these differences can help create targeted interventions and support services that meet the needs of different demographic groups, authors suggest.

Authors also noted the study highlights the need for policymakers, healthcare professionals and community organizations to tackle the challenges of healthcare affordability and access facing older adults.

Efforts to contain healthcare costs and combat financial scams and fraud must be prioritized, with programs like the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) playing a vital role in providing information and resources to help older adults navigate their healthcare options and mitigate expenses, authors suggest.

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