AARP CEO Urges Older Americans to Be Health Care Consumers

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The dynamic CEO of AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins, encourages everyone over 50 to become much more active in defining self-image, personal motivation, health care goals, and wealth/asset management. In Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, she challenges the outdated beliefs that older people should slow down, take it easy, and become passive and accepting. For instance, here’s what she has to say about taking control of your health.

“The word patient is a more passive term than consumer. Patients receive. Consumers buy or use. Patients take whatever comes; they endure, suffer, or tolerate. Consumers look out for their own self-interests. They use, buy, and seek satisfaction. So a consumer of health care is one who uses or buys health care products and services to satisfy his or her own needs, whereas a patient takes a less active role and just receives health care.”

Jenkins observes that the consumer mentality is shifting the balance in the whole health care system. She posits that consumers no longer want to simply receive health care. They want to be equal players, in partnership with their providers and physicians. They want a voice in their treatment, they want satisfaction, they want to achieve desired outcomes, they demand quality care, and they’re looking for good value for their health care dollars.

“What empowers them? Three things: information, technology, and a strong sense of individual responsibility. There is no question that information about health and well-being – and the technology that makes it readily available – are driving the trend toward consumerism in health care. Add to this mix an insatiable appetite for this information – especially from aging baby boomers – and we have the ingredients for a significant change in the culture of health care.”

People with Medicare, visit Medicare Interactive for consumer-oriented tips on How can I find a good doctor? and What questions should I ask before joining a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Caregivers, visit Medicare Interactive for consumer-oriented tips on How do I advocate for my loved one’s medical interests?

Learn more about Disrupt Aging by Jo Ann Jenkins.

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