Disability Stages and Trouble Getting Needed Health Care Among Medicare Beneficiaries

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The aim of this study was to examine whether activity limitation stages were associated with patient-reported trouble getting needed health care among Medicare beneficiaries.


This was a population-based study (n = 35,912) of Medicare beneficiaries who participated in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey for years 2001–2010. Beneficiaries were classified into an activity limitation stage from 0 (no limitation) to IV (complete) derived from self-reported or proxy-reported difficulty performing activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living. Beneficiaries reported whether they had trouble getting health care in the subsequent year. A multivariable logistic regression model examined the association between activity limitation stages and trouble getting needed care.


Compared with beneficiaries with no limitations (activities of daily living stage 0), the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) for stage I (mild) to stage IV (complete) for trouble getting needed health care ranged from OR = 1.53 (95% CI, 1.32–1.76) to OR = 2.86 (95% CI, 1.97–4.14). High costs (31.7%), not having enough money (31.2%), and supplies/services not covered (24.2%) were the most common reasons for reporting trouble getting needed health care.


Medicare beneficiaries at higher stages of activity limitations reported trouble getting needed health care, which was commonly attributed to financial barriers.

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