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Despite the advances in medical care and robust healthcare infrastructure, Senior health in the United States ranks among the poorest as compared to other industrialized nations. The recent report, published in the journal Health Affairs, revealed that despite aid programs, U.S. seniors struggle more than 11 other similar nations to afford the medical treatment they need.
In the United States, the senior population is expected to double over the next 15-20 years as the baby boomer generation ages into retirement and beyond. Currently, though, over 87% of U.S. seniors are suffering from a chronic illness, and 19% of seniors are skipping healthcare visits and treatments due to a lack of funds. The rapid expansion of this population and the staggering costs for basic healthcare in the U.S are deemed unsustainable by analysts.
In addition to costs, availability of healthcare providers, and the communication between them is another major breakdown for U.S. seniors. Estimates of nearly 45% of seniors cannot get an appointment with their physician within 24-48 hours when they are sick leading to high emergency room and urgent care costs. In other industrialized countries, less than half as many patients report delays in care. Additionally, as many as 35 percent of seniors report major breakdowns in communication between healthcare providers.
Major changes have already been implemented in the United States healthcare system, and more are set to come. Adaptations in Medicare programs, the Affordable Care Act, and other policies seek to improve care, control costs, and include currently unprotected individuals. However, as of this report, prices seem to have only risen and coverage become more sparse.
Many healthcare professionals and watchdog organizations are encouraging more individual control over healthcare treatment. Patient recommendations often include better nutrition, exercise regimens, and home screening for common health conditions.