Information Needs and Preferences of the Medicare Population with Vision Loss

Health Care Financing Review, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Information Needs and Preferences of the Medicare Population with Vision Loss


INTRODUCTION

The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has identified a diverse set of beneficiary subgroups that may have special information needs about Medicare, or may require innovative communication approaches. This article synthesizes key findings from research (1997 inventory research, 1997 focus groups; and the 1998 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey [MCBS]) conducted with those elderly beneficiaries with vision loss (both those with partial vision loss and those who are blind) who are age 65 or over and not institutionalized.

It is important to keep in mind that vision loss takes varying forms (e.g., general blurting, loss of peripheral vision, loss of ability to distinguish colors) and comes in varying degrees. Therefore, the communication needs and preferences may vary (for example, printed communications appropriate for beneficiaries with partial vision loss would not meet the needs of the small subset of this population who are blind).

PROFILE OF MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES WITH VISION LOSS

According to the 1996-1997 MCBS, almost 40 percent of non-institutionalized Medicare beneficiaries report having difficulty seeing, even with corrective lenses. Only a small percentage of these individuals--less than 1 percent of the Medicare population--are completely blind, but vision loss can represent a significant barrier to communicating with the Medicare population.

Compared with elderly Medicare beneficiaries in general, beneficiaries who have partial or complete vision loss:

* Tend to be older.

* Are somewhat more likely to live alone or with children or other relatives or non-relatives, and less likely to be living with a spouse.

* Have lower incomes and are less educated.

* Are more likely to be Medicaid recipients.

* Are more likely to report being in fair or poor health, and to have problems with hearing and activities of daily living.

KEY INFORMATION NEEDS AND KNOWLEDGE

For the most part, beneficiaries with vision loss have information needs that resemble those of the general elderly Medicare population. They ask the same questions and demonstrate the same gaps in understanding about the Medicare program. However, they also have unique needs. Key findings about the information needs and Medicare-related knowledge levels of blind and low vision beneficiaries, as compared with the general beneficiary population, include:

* They are somewhat more likely to need basic information about Medicare, as they are not able to access information as readily as full-sighted beneficiaries.

* They are also somewhat more likely to seek information, but are less likely to find it when they do.

* They need information on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of vision loss; coverage of vision assistive devices; and coping strategies.

* For those who have lost their vision gradually and are not accustomed to low vision, advice on alternative ways of dealing with daily life and on coping strategies are helpful to them and their families.

COMMON QUESTIONS

* What services are covered by Medicare? Are glasses, closed circuit televisions, and other necessary low vision aids covered?

* Who pays for low vision services?

* What is the role of managed care in Medicare?

* How does managed care fit into the health care system?

PREFERRED INFORMATION SOURCES

Beneficiaries with vision loss are generally similar to other Medicare beneficiaries in the sources they rely on to obtain information about the Medicare program. The preferred source depends on the topic.

* For information about the Medicare program and out-of-pocket costs, the majority of those reporting rely on Medicare sources (e.g., publications, carriers, toll-free line).

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
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
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

Information Needs and Preferences of the Medicare Population with Vision Loss
Settings

Settings

Typeface
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

Style
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?