By the Numbers: Health Care Needs of an Aging Population

Americans are living longer than ever before, with nearly one quarter of baby boomers expected to live past age 90. In fact, the U.S. 65+ age group is growing faster than the country’s population – a first for this demographic.

As medical technology continues to advance, new forms of health care will be available to young and old alike. But what will be most important to Americans as they age? To learn more about health care needs and wants as our population grows older, CVS Health conducted a public opinion poll in January 2017 of 2,300 registered voters, including 700 seniors. 

Aging in Place, Maintaining Independence

Eighty percent of respondents and 88 percent of seniors report that they are responsible for making their own health care decisions:

  • Females are more likely to say that they are primarily responsible for their own health care decisions - roughly 11 percent more women than men reported this to be the case.
  • Further, individuals 65 and older have a strong desire to maintain that independence for as long as possible, with nearly eight in 10 seniors (79 percent) noting that they plan to “age in place,” either alone or with a spouse or family member.

Health Care Providers Must Understand Needs and Values

Cost is king when choosing a health care provider, but voters also stressed the importance of expertise, convenience, and cultural competency:

  • 93 percent of seniors and 90 percent of all voters rated expertise in their health conditions as either very or somewhat important.
  • Seniors in particular, at 96 percent, rated convenient location as somewhat or very important.
  • 74 percent of all voters rated cultural competency as somewhat or very important – indicating a desire for doctors who not only understand disease, but also life circumstances and personal values. In fact, one in 10 voters say they felt their current provider did not take their culture or heritage into account, and that it negatively impacted the care they received. 

Cost an Ongoing Concern

One of the key determinants of being able to enjoy a longer, healthier life is the ability to afford appropriate treatment and care, and respondents are acutely aware of the costs related to their current and future care:

  • Voters of all ages reported being very or somewhat concerned about their ability to afford health care costs in the next 10-20 years. Top concerns were insurance premiums (73 percent), unexpected illness or injury (71 percent), and prescription costs (64 percent). 
  • More than half of those polled are also very or somewhat concerned about being able to afford the cost of caring for an older relative or loved one.
  • Access to reasonably priced non-emergency care is especially valuable for older Americans, who are turning up at retail clinics such as CVS MinuteClinic in increasingly large numbers.

By offering a variety of convenient and cost-effective health services such as preventive screenings, vaccinations, lifestyle programs, and medication management support, pharmacies are well-equipped to help Americans age in place without breaking the bank. 

For more information about our efforts to make health care more affordable, visit our Health Care Innovation & Delivery information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.