Feature

Patients who hide. Patients who seek.


 

Some people are more likely to seek medical care, and some people are less likely, but which type is more common? The results of a survey of over 14,000 Medicare beneficiaries suggest that the avoid-care type may be a bit more prevalent.

In the survey, 40% of respondents said that they were more likely to keep it to themselves when they got sick, but 36% visit a physician as soon as they feel bad. Almost 29% reported that they avoid going to a physician, but 25% worry about their own health more than others, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported based on the results of the 2015 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey.

Self-reported indicators of propensity to seek care, 2015
The last two questions on propensity to seek care put the avoid-care type in the minority, albeit a somewhat disturbing one: 11% of Medicare patients responding to a survey said that they had a problem and did not seek a physician and 7% had a prescription they did not fill, the CMS noted.

Race and ethnicity made a big difference for some questions: 59% of Hispanics said that they visit a doctor as soon as they feel bad, compared with 44% of non-Hispanic blacks and 31% of non-Hispanic whites. That same order was seen for “worry about your health more than others” – 54% Hispanic, 38% black, and 19% white – and for “avoid going to the doctor” – 44% Hispanic, 34% black, and 26% white, the CMS reported.

The three groups, which were the only race/ethnicities included in the report, were all around 40% for “when sick, keep it to yourself,” while two of the three were the same for “had a problem and did not seek a doctor” (blacks and Hispanics at 14% and whites at 10%) and for “ever had a prescription you did not fill” (whites and Hispanics at 7% and blacks at 10%), the report said.

The estimates on propensity to seek care did not include Medicare recipients who lived part or all of the year in a long-term care facility, which was about 4% of the Medicare population in 2015. The survey included a total of 14,068 respondents.

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