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Access to Physicians Survey

What do midlife and older Americans say about their experiences with and access to physicians? (For answers, see corresponding alphabetized items below.)

  • How do they rate their medical care? (a)
  • Have they ever had to postpone seeking medical care? (b)
  • Have they ever had to give up something in order to pay for an increase in their health insurance premium? (c)

Responses to these questions from age 50+ Americans surveyed by AARP suggest that patients are generally having positive experiences in dealing with their physicians.

a.  Satisfaction levels are high, with 79 percent of those surveyed saying they are highly satisfied with their health care and 80 percent with their access to physicians.

b.  The large majority have no problem finding a doctor or specialist to treat them, and most with appointments do not encounter longer-than-expected waits.

c.  Most respondents have not had to give up something in order to pay for health insurance (or Medicare) premium increases. Under 1 percent report having insurance companies not pay for tests or procedures recommended by their primary care physician or specialist.

Comparing the health care experiences of those ages 50 to 64 with health insurance to those age 65+ with Medicare indicates that, while the overall picture is positive, on balance it is even more positive for Medicare beneficiaries. However, as other research has shown, the experience for those without health insurance is decidedly different.

The February 2006 telephone survey was conducted for AARP by Woelfel Research, Inc. among 2,010 age 50+ Americans (1,000 under age 65 and 1,010 age 65+). Further information about the survey may be obtained by contacting Dr. Keenan, the report's author, at 202-434-6274. (23 pages)

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