Monday, June 09, 2008

Widener's Surveys on Elder Pennsylvanians

On June 8, 2008, a posting entitled "Survey on Convenient Care Medical Clinics" noted the second set of survey results recently issued by Dr. Eric Brucker, Professor of Economics at Widener University, regarding "Elder Pennsylvania".

Another new survey suggests that convenient care medical clinics (CCMCs) could be a potential solution to health care issues, if fears can be alleviated; at least in the Keystone State.

The survey by Widener University in Elder Pennsylvania, found that while baby-boomers aged 43 to 64 were most interested in using these clinics, many also expressed concerns regarding the quality of care likely to be delivered.

Aged played a significant role in a person’s likelihood of using a CCMC: among respondents aged 43 to 49, more than half (54 percent) were very likely or somewhat likely to use the clinics, while that number dropped to a mere 25 percent among those over 80 years of age.

Access to health insurance influences an individual’s likelihood of using a CCMC: the percentage of respondents who were very likely or somewhat likely to use a CCMC was higher among individuals without health care insurance, than among those with insurance (65 percent versus 40 percent).

Women in the survey indicated they were very likely to worry about misdiagnosis (25 percent), yet they were more inclined to use these types of facilities than men (43 percent versus 37 percent). * * *
These survey results about health care involving elderly Pennsylvanians were also featured as local news on WITF-FM (a PBS affiliate in Harrisburg, PA).

first set of survey results had been released by Dr. Brucker on January 15, 2008, as announced on the website of Widener University in an article entitled "Widener Releases Elder Pennsylvanian Survey".

That initial announcement noted that the "
Widener Elder Pennsylvanian Survey: Baby Boomers to Centenarians, Volume 1" was based on telephonic inquiries, conducted in cooperation with Mathew Greenwald and Associates, undertaken in May 2007 with 750 randomly selected Pennsylvanians who were at least 43 years old — the youngest of the "baby boom" generation.
Widener University, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, recently released "The Widener Elder Pennsylvanian Survey," aimed at investigating the outlook of this demographic. The survey talked to baby boomers and centenarians about their attitudes toward their futures, work, wealth, and health issues.

Overall, Pennsylvanians are very worried about health care expenses destroying their retirement nest eggs. In fact, 67 percent of respondents fear they will spend all of their savings on health care.

Other key findings indicate Pennsylvania boomers are concerned about the following:
  • Greater anxiety over medical benefits than their elders faced.
  • Living longer and retiring later, also expecting more flexibility in the workplace.
  • Emotional and financial dimensions that factor into the decision to retire.
  • Increased personal responsibility in planning their retirement outcomes.
The survey also uncovered older Pennsylvanians' expectations as to retirement:
  • A little over half of boomers (52 percent) indicate that they plan to retire at or before age 65, compared with the majority of their elders, (82 percent) who report being retired before age 65. Pennsylvania boomers plan to work longer than their elders but they also expect more flexibility in the workplace.
  • A reported 42 percent of those working would hope to phase out their full-time job by working fewer hours. Other boomers (70 percent) see working part-time, or being self-employed, as a transition strategy.
  • Shockingly, 25 percent of all those working expressed an interest in never retiring.
The first set of survey results also revealed a surprising effect of retirement upon health & well-being.
Retirement has evolved into a decision that takes into account both emotional and financial factors. This survey reveals many boomers in early retirements are associated with poorer health and a lesser sense of emotional well being.

Ninety-seven percent of non-retired workers age 62 to 70 and 86 percent of working boomers reported that their emotional well-being was either "very good" or "excellent." Conversely, only 63 percent of the retired boomers and 78% of those boomers over age 70 reported "excellent" or "very good" emotional well-being. * * *
That first set of survey results was presented to a committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in April, 2008, according to the article "PA baby boomers likely to postpone retirement to pay for health care"(04/10/08), posted by Public Radio Capitol News.

After the remaining two sets of additional survey results are issued, a comprehensive picture of the emerging challenges facing Pennsylvanian due to the aging population here may become clearer.

The situation in Pennsylvania is an example, perhaps even an exaggeration, of a national trend highlighted by an article posted on AARP Bulletin Today entitled
"Medical Care System Not Ready for Mass of Aging Baby Boomers, Study Says", by Randolph E. Schmid:

"We face an impending crisis as the growing number of older patients, who are living longer with more complex health needs, increasingly outpaces the number of health care providers with the knowledge and skills to care for them capably," said John W. Rowe, professor of health policy and management at Columbia University.

Rowe headed an Institute of Medicine committee that released a report Monday on the health care outlook for the 78 million baby boomers about to begin turning 65.

The report from the institute, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, said:

There aren't enough specialists in geriatric medicine.

  • Insufficient training is available.

  • The specialists that do exist are underpaid.

  • Medicare fails to provide for team care that many elderly patients need