Older Adults Seek Less Emergency Care Due to Potential Costs: Research

December 17, 2022 06:57 IT IS

Washington [US]Dec 17 (ANI): A new study reveals that some older people have been resistant to seeking medical help even when they felt they might need it due to concerns about how much emergency care might cost them.
According to research published in the American Journal of Managed Care, 22% of older adults who might have required emergency room care stayed home due to concerns about potential costs.
People in their 50s and 60s, women, people without health insurance, people with a household income of less than $30,000, and those who say their mental health is fair or poor were more likely to say they had avoided care emergency due to cost concerns. .
The study, based on a survey conducted in June 2020, asked older adults to think about the past two years, including the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even among those who had not had a medical emergency in this time, concerns about what an emergency visit might cost ran high. Four in five older adults said they were concerned about the cost of emergency care (35% somewhat concerned and 45% very concerned, and 18% not sure they could afford a visit).

Data for the study comes from the National Survey on Healthy Aging, based at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Health Care Policy and Innovation and supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, UM’s academic medical center. The findings are based on the previously published survey report and are based on responses from a nationally representative sample of 2,074 people ages 50 to 80.
The findings confirm the experience of lead author Rachel Solnick, MD, M.Sc., who trained in the IHPI National Clinical Fellows Program before joining the faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System. In New York.
“As an ER doctor, I’ve seen patients come to the ER after postponing their care. They often come in sicker than they would have been if they’d gotten care sooner,” she said. “That scenario is what I find most alarming about the findings of this survey. Some groups who are medically vulnerable or have suffered worse outcomes from COVID-19 were more likely to report that their counterparts avoided the emergency room related to costs. These findings highlight the importance of reducing the number of uninsured people and the need for insurers to clearly communicate coverage of emergency services.”
Keith Kocher, MD, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of emergency medicine at UM, notes that the federal No Surprises Act was enacted after the study was conducted. That law seeks to reduce “surprise billing” for emergency care when a person with private insurance receives it from hospitals or providers outside their health plan’s network. At the time of the study, Medicare and Medicaid already prohibited emergency care providers from doing this type of “balance billing.”
Even so, a person with private insurance could owe hundreds of dollars in copays or deductibles for an emergency visit, the authors note. That’s especially true for people with high-deductible health plans, whose enrollment is rising.
Although the percentage of older adults who lack health insurance is small (4% of the study sample), they were 35% more likely to say they weren’t sure they could afford emergency care. Solnick points out that both the economic impacts of the pandemic and the decision by more than a dozen states, including Texas and Florida, not to expand Medicaid to all low-income adults, mean millions of people may have to pay out-of-pocket. emergency visits. (AND ME)

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