Seniors Medical Care Poses Bias Question

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 1, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Seniors Medical Care Poses Bias Question

Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Growing evidence suggests American seniors are being shortchanged by the nation's medical system.

Although they have the greatest risk of dying from such diseases as heart disorders, cancer and influenza/pneumonia, numerous studies show that the aged are often passed over for the most aggressive forms of treatment and diagnostic and preventive care that is standard for younger patients.

Informed observers blame the disparity on what they perceive as a long-standing bias against older Americans by medical personnel. They say this bias is based on misconceptions that this patient population cannot tolerate certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, or doesn't want them.

"Studies show that older people can tolerate chemotherapy and radiation therapy and do just as well as younger people," said Dr. Charles A. Cefalu, president of the Louisiana Geriatric Society.

Critics also blame doctors for failing to prod older patients to be screened for life-threatening conditions such as breast, cervical, prostate or colon cancer or to be immunized against the flu. While the elderly account for 80 percent of all flu-related deaths in the United States yearly, two-thirds of older Americans fail to get annual flu shots.

"Older people are very disadvantaged by the U.S. medical system. Only about 40 percent of their costs are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. ... Care of older people needs to be dramatically improved," Dr. Robert N. Butler, head of the New York-based International Longevity Center, said in a telephone interview.

"I concur 100 percent," said Dr. Cefalu, a former board member of the American Geriatric Society. He said Medicare has cut reimbursement of primary care physicians who treat the elderly by 17 percent in the past three years.

More than 60 percent of doctors who offer such care are threatening to end it, if a threatened 4.5 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement goes through in fiscal 2004, according to Dr. Cefalu.

"Elderly patients take a lot more [of a physician's] time," he said in a telephone interview.

Dr. Butler, the founding director of the National Institute on Aging, is one of many specialists on aging who criticized the U.S. medical establishment for age discrimination in the November edition of AARP Bulletin.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Seniors Medical Care Poses Bias Question


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?