• Article

Health status of aged Medicare beneficiaries

The goal of the National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey (NMCUES) was to improve the understanding of the ways in which Americans use and pay for health care. This report is one in a series of descriptive reports based on NMCUES data. Data concerning several aspects of participants' health status were collected in NMCUES. These included measures of disability, activity limitation, illness conditions, and perceived health status. The purpose of this report is to provide preliminary descriptive information from NMCUES about selected aspects of the health status of noninstitutionalized elderly people who reported being covered by Medicare. The results presented are based on data collected about noninstitutionalized people in the NMCUES national household sample who: (1) were 65 years of age and over at any time during the survey year, and (2) reported being covered by Medicare Hospital Insurance, Supplementary Medical Insurance, or both during the survey year (1980). Of the aged Medicare beneficiaries, 37 percent reported experiencing no days on which their activities were limited for health reasons during the survey year. The average number of restricted activity days (RAD's) per year per person among all aged Medicare beneficiaries was estimated to be 31. By comparison, people under 65 years of age averaged 12 RAD's. At the beginning of the survey period, 60 percent reported that they were not limited in either their usual activity (e.g., work) or other activities (e.g., recreation) for health reasons. Men were substantially more likely than women to be limited in their activities (52 versus 31 percent). Of persons under 65 years of age, 94 percent reported no activity limitation. Of aged Medicare beneficiaries, 7 percent reported having no illness conditions during the survey year, while 23 percent reported seven or more illness conditions. Only 5 percent reported having one or more illness conditions for which they had not sought medical attention. The average number of conditions per person during the year was 4.4. People under 65 years of age averaged 2.9 illness conditions. The health of more than one-fourth (26 percent) of the elderly Medicare beneficiaries was judged to be excellent relative to other people of the same age, while the health of one out of eight people (12 percent) was judged to be poor.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


Schlenger, W., Wadman, W. M., & Corder, L. (1983). Health status of aged Medicare beneficiaries. National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey (Series). Series B, Descriptive report, (2), 1-24.