Drawing of diverse elderly people thinking about their healthcare.

What an ideal health care system might look like

Perspectives from older Black and Latinx adults.

By Celli Horstman et al, The Commonwealth Fund

While nearly all Americans age 65 and older are covered by Medicare, their experiences seeking and receiving health care can vary significantly.

Research shows that older Black and Latinx Medicare enrollees commonly experience racism when seeking care, report communication challenges with their providers, and have difficulty affording and accessing regular care. Other studies have found that patients who report discrimination are more likely to perceive their care as poor-quality.

It’s also known that patients who feel disrespected by health care providers do not adhere as well to their treatment plan and have greater mistrust of health professionals. Conversely, patients who say their provider treats them with dignity are more likely to use preventive services.

Making up less than 20 percent of Medicare enrollees, Black and Latinx adults tend to be underrepresented in national surveys. This has made it difficult to obtain their perspectives on the health care they receive. To elevate their voices and gain a better understanding of their experiences, the public opinion research firm PerryUndem, with Commonwealth Fund support, held a series of focus groups with Medicare enrollees age 65 and older between July and October 2021. The groups and their members varied by health status as well as income level. For example, members of some groups had relatively low income as well as significant health care needs, while members of other focus groups had higher income and had a mix of health needs. However, all members of each group were either Black or Latinx. Read more …