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U.S. healthcare costs are disproportionately concentrated among older adults with multiple chronic conditions or functional limitations, with disparities particularly pronounced in the United States compared to eight other countries finds a new study from the Commonwealth Fund.

This latest analysis published in “How High Needs Patients Experience the Health Care System in Nine Countries” found that the United States has the highest percentage of older adults with three or more chronic conditions at 42 percent compared to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Canada ranked second with 28 percent. The report authors define “high needs” as those 65 years and older with at least three chronic conditions or functional limitation in activities of daily living such as dressing or bathing.

More than one in five high-needs adults faced cost problems accessing needed care such as having a medical problem but not visiting the doctor, skipping recommended tests, or skipping or not filling prescriptions. The 22 percent of high needs adults reporting this issue in the United States was the highest rate of any of the countries surveyed.

 

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