72% of respondents to a survey conducted by the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI) felt that the U.S. health care system does not adequately care for the aging population.
As per Hospice News, in September, NPHI conducted the poll in partnership with Emerging Creative and SIR Consulting. The study is a follow-up to a 2017 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Economist to determine whether attitudes of health care have evolved in the intervening years, especially in light of the pandemic.
82 percent of the 2,009 survey respondents indicated they felt the system emphasizes profits over patients. Although 74% had a favorable opinion of hospice care, only 31% said they trusted the entire health care system.
According to Hospice News, NPHI President Carole Fisher, the loss of faith in our health care system appears to be a serious problem. “Because what people don’t trust appears to be the profiteering parts, earning money off their ailments when they are at their most vulnerable.”
White respondents and those with health insurance were more confident in the system than those from other communities and those without insurance.
Additionally, Baby Boomers had a higher level of trust than younger Americans. According to Debbie McCarron, director of special projects at NPHI, hospices may wish to take this into account when talking with families regarding the care of their loved ones.
“It was striking that younger generations lack confidence and do not believe we are prepared. In the coming years, they will likely be the ones making some of these decisions for the older generation, McCarron told Hospice News. “We talk a lot about wanting to get people in sooner, and I believe those are the people who will require some persuasion.”
Other significant findings indicate that many Americans do not believe their country is prepared to care for an aging population or deal with the resulting societal effects. 76% of respondents said the aging population posed an issue, while just 14% believed the government was prepared to address it.
Support for family caregivers, emphasis on comfort care towards the end of life, and socioeconomic determinants of health are among the top areas for improvement.
In addition, the results underlined the need for increased communication between patients and physicians regarding end-of-life goals and preferences. 81% of respondents claimed they had never discussed end-of-life care with a health care practitioner, despite the fact that 89% of those surveyed said they were comfortable discussing death.
“People want to have these conversations, but clinicians untrained in hospice and palliative medicine may not know how to conduct them,” Fisher said. I hope that this research reveals the fact that health care institutions and clinicians might do a better job of bringing in specialists to have difficult talks and that we could serve as partners more collaboratively to help individuals understand their options.
Consistent with earlier studies, the majority of respondents stated a desire to age in place and pass away in their homes, in comfort, and without uncontrolled pain. In addition, they desired to avoid imposing the burden of their end-of-life decisions on family members; nevertheless, 66% had not written their desires.
According to Ethan McChesney, director of policy at NPHI, hospices may be able to use survey results to inform their outreach to the populations they serve.
In any given year, only approximately 51% of Medicare enrollees utilize hospice care. McChesney told Hospice News that there is fertile ground for those who are not receiving the benefits of complete, multidisciplinary end-of-life care.
“It is hoped that some aspects of this research may enable individuals in various marketplaces to identify themselves more effectively and advertise themselves more successfully to emerging populations.”