Internet an Important Health Tool, But Not for Seniors, Study Finds

http://fconline.fdncenter.org/pnd/189/story

Even as the Internet becomes an increasingly important resource for individuals making decisions about health and healthcare options, a national survey of older Americans by the Kaiser Family Foundation ( http://kff.org/ ) finds that less than a third of seniors age sixty-five and older have ever gone online, compared to more than two-thirds of those between the ages of fifty and sixty-four. According to the report, e-health and the Elderly: How Seniors Use the Internet for Health, only 20 percent of today’s seniors have gone online to look for health information, compared to 53 percent of fifty- to sixty-four-year-olds, who rank the Internet first on a list of media sources of health information. The survey also found that seniors whose annual household income is less than $20,000 a year, including most people on Medicare, are much less likely to have gone online than those with incomes between $20,000 and $49,000.

With the passage of Medicare reform that allows recipients to choose prescrip-tion drug discount cards, the federal Web site Medicare.gov ( http://medicare.gov/ ) has become an important resource for comparing the benefits of competing cards, but the survey finds that few seniors had gone online for such information. “We know that the Internet can be a great health tool for seniors, but the majority are lower-income, less well-educated, and not online,” said Kaiser president and CEO Drew Altman. “It’s time for a national discussion on how to get seniors online.”

“Online Health Information Poised to Become Important Resource for Seniors, But Not There Yet.” Kaiser Family Foundation Press Release 1/12/05. http://kff.org/entmedia/entmedia011205nr.cfm


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