Primary care doctors are critical link to better health for seniors

Discover how Medicare Advantage can reduce hospital stays and care gaps for seniors.

(Humana, sponsored) Senior talking with their primary care doctor.

Reaching retirement age can be a wonderful time in life – traveling to the places on your bucket list, spending quality time with your active grandchildren, or picking up a new sport or hobby with friends. Unfortunately, it may also be a frustrating time if health issues hinder your next big adventure.

As we age, our bodies change. When we reach “senior” status, it is possible that we will have at least one chronic condition – in fact, about 80% of us will have two or more.

Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer become more common as we get older, and it can be confusing if you need to see multiple medical providers and take a variety of medications.

(Humana, sponsored) Active couple enjoying travel.

Having a primary care doctor who knows you, your health history, and your risk factors is crucial. It gives you access to personalized advice to help you maintain your health and be active. If you don’t have a primary care physician, it’s time to find one and schedule an initial wellness visit.

Your insurance provider can connect you with doctors in your area that accept your plan. At Humana, for example, we encourage our Medicare Advantage members to establish a relationship with a “value-based care” provider in our network. Value-based care is a team-based, holistic approach that allows everyone making decisions about your health care to work together. It focuses on quality of care and the provider’s performance as well as the patient’s experience. It’s different than the health care most of us grew up using: go see your doctor only when you are sick - sound familiar?

Advantages of team-based, holistic health care

More time with your doctor.

  • Rather than waiting until you don’t feel well to visit the doctor, the intent is to meet regularly. This can help to identify and address health issues as early as possible and decrease any impact on your physical and mental well-being.

  • Value-based care providers encourage more frequent and longer physician visits, allowing time for patients to ask questions and for physicians to personalize their care. Patients are strongly encouraged to take advantage of preventive screenings and vaccinations.

Coordination between your various health care providers.

  • Older adults are seen by an average of seven different physicians. With value-based care, the primary care physician serves as the quarterback of the entire care team to ensure everyone works together for the health of the patient. This whole-person approach could include nurses, medical assistants, pharmacists, social workers and more.

  • The care team often goes beyond what we think of as standard medical care. To help address health-related social needs, they often connect patients to community resources to assist with housing, access to food, financial assistance and more. They also help patients understand any supplemental benefits they may have through their Medicare Advantage plan – depending on the plan, this could include benefits like transportation to medical appointments, health and wellness classes, and even a monthly allowance to help pay for essentials like groceries, rent and utilities.

Lower risk of hospitalization.

  • When a care team and your Medicare Advantage plan carrier work together to approach health challenges, it can lower the likelihood of hospitalization and minimize gaps in care.

  • Humana Medicare Advantage members using value-based care providers have 30% fewer hospitalizations and almost 13% fewer visits to the emergency room, when compared to Medicare beneficiaries using the traditional fee-for-service model.

(Humana, sponsored) Family enjoying their time together outside.

Regardless of where you are in your life journey, be sure a strong relationship with a primary care physician is part of your long-term plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, use it to help you find the provider that best fits your needs.

Having a doctor who understands you and offers support and resources unique to your personal needs can make a significant difference in your longevity and quality of life.

To see an example of how value-based primary care works, read Karvin’s personal story.

Dr. Robert Zorowitz is a Regional Vice President of Health Services for Humana and previously practiced geriatric medicine and hospice/palliative medicine for more than 30 years.

Additional Information

Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. Allowance amounts cannot be combined with other benefit allowances. Limitations and restrictions may apply.