'Nontrivial' Number of Seniors Lack a Personal Physician

Lacking a personal physician is more common for some vulnerable groups
Lacking a personal physician is more common for some vulnerable groups

HealthDay News — Medicare beneficiaries without a personal physician report substantially worse patient experiences and less routine care, according to a study published online February 16 in Medical Care.

Grant R. Martsolf, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues assessed the care experiences of older adults without a personal physician using data from 272,463 beneficiaries (aged ≥65 years) participating in the 2012 Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. 

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The researchers found that 5% of respondents reported no personal physician. Men, racial/ethnic minorities (e.g., 16% of American Indian/Alaska Natives), and the younger and less educated respondents more commonly lacked a personal physician. Those without a personal physician reported substantially poorer scores on 4 measures of patient experience (P<0.001). These were larger differences than those seen when examining responses by key demographic characteristics. Additionally, those without a personal physician were 3 times more likely to have not seen any health care provider in the last 6 months.

"Even with the access provided by Medicare, a small but nontrivial proportion of seniors report having no personal physician," the authors write. "Efforts should be made to encourage and help seniors without personal physicians to select one."

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