Survey: Baby Boomers Say Fear is Primary Health Motivator

MDVIP | October 27, 2015
Three out of four boomers say they should be doing more to manage their health in new MDVIP survey; many waiting for life-threatening diagnosis to prioritize their health, cite frustrations with primary care

Baby boomers believe in the value of prevention, but many of America’s most influential generation are taking a reactive, and sometimes risky, approach when it comes to managing their health, as revealed by the first MDVIP Boomer Health Survey released today.

The national survey of 1,049 baby boomers, conducted by the independent market research firm Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of MDVIP, shows that while 94 percent of boomers believe preventive care is an important part of staying healthy, three out of four say they should be doing more to better manage their health (74 percent). Half of boomers (46 percent) say they don’t exercise regularly, and more than a third say they don’t eat healthy (35 percent) or get sufficient sleep (37 percent, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night).

More than 75 million baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – are now living in the United States. This aging population is expected to live longer than their parents’ generation, but with higher rates of chronic illness which can lead to diminished quality of life in their later years. MDVIP commissioned the research to better understand boomers’ perceptions and concerns related to their current health, and how primary care experiences are influencing their overall well-being.

Reactive Mindset: The Waiting Game
What would motivate boomers to get on a healthier track? Though 73 percent of those surveyed report suffering from a chronic health condition, almost half (43 percent) are playing the “waiting game,” saying it would take an unexpected, life-threatening diagnosis for them to invest more in staying healthy. Additionally, 14 percent say a friend or family member’s health scare would be an impetus for change. Other motivators are having an expert create a clear plan tailored to helping them achieve their health goals (28 percent), and having a strong support system of friends, family and mentors to encourage them (25 percent). About 17 percent claim nothing would motivate them, believing they have little control over their future health.

“The survey findings show that boomers have a greater health consciousness than previous generations, but also expose the discrepancies between what boomers know they should be doing to stay healthy versus the reality,” said Dr. Bernard Kaminetsky, Medical Director and a founding physician for MDVIP. “A health scare or serious illness is frequently the first wake-up call for people, but many chronic conditions plaguing boomers today – from diabetes to cardiovascular disease – are often preventable. This is where good primary care plays a key role, by helping patients identify their risk factors early and influencing the necessary lifestyle changes in order to mitigate, and even prevent, disease.”

The Pains of Primary Care
The gap between boomer beliefs and behavior may be linked to shortcomings in primary care, with nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) reporting frustrations with their primary care experience. The findings revealed:

  • The top three frustrations about visiting their primary care physician are waiting while in the office to see the doctor (32 percent), the limited time they actually have with the doctor (26 percent) and trying to get an appointment (18 percent).
  • 31 percent report that they typically spend more time sitting in the waiting room than they actually spend with their doctor, and 28 percent say that they spend more time getting their car oil changed than they do with their doctor.
  • 30 percent have had to track down their doctor’s office to get test results.
  • 23 percent say their doctor isn’t available when they need him/her.
  • Many boomers feel their doctor doesn’t really know them, with 31 percent doubting their doctor would recognize them on the street.
  • More than a third (36 percent) have taken action as a result of these frustrations, including 27 percent who have changed or have thought about changing their primary care doctor.
  • For most boomers, the actual experience of visiting their primary care doctor is a chore: 45 percent compare it to grocery shopping, 11 percent to airport security and 10 percent to waiting in line at Disney. Only a quarter (25 percent) say their actual experience is like talking with a trusted advisor.
  • 18 percent compare conversations with their doctor to talking to a boss who is running late.
  • When asked what they would most value in their primary care doctor, 62 percent say visits that don’t feel hurried and last as long as needed; 50 percent want a physician with a kind and compassionate bedside manner; and 39 percent want a physician who focuses more on prevention and wellness, not just treating them when they’re sick.

“These insights highlight the increasing challenges of traditional, volume-based medicine that are driving more consumers to look for healthcare alternatives,” said Bret Jorgensen, Chairman and CEO of MDVIP. “Many people want and need a close relationship with their doctor, who knows them well, customizes a plan to optimize their overall health, and has the ability to intervene and coach along the way. This is the cornerstone of the MDVIP model, which was launched 15 years ago to provide patients with more personalized, proactive care. Data shows that patients who are actively engaged in their health and have better relationships with their doctor are achieving improved outcomes and better management of chronic conditions.”

Better Health Outcomes
Hospitalizations are the largest cost drivers to the healthcare system. The American Journal of Managed Care published a study that showed dramatic reductions in hospitalizations for MDVIP Medicare and commercially insured patients, as well as lower hospital readmission rates. MDVIP members also report satisfaction scores that are nearly 40 percent higher than traditional primary care practices.

About the Survey
The MDVIP Boomer Health Survey was conducted August 25 – 31, 2015, via an online interview, in English, by Ipsos Public Affairs, a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research firm. The sample was composed of 1,049 U.S. adults between the ages of 51 and 69 who have a primary care doctor or have seen a primary care doctor in the past five years. An additional group of 407 boomers were interviewed in the New York metro area. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

MDVIP, Inc. is the national leader in affordable personalized healthcare offered by over 830 affiliated primary care physicians across the United States who are committed to empowering people to take charge of their health. MDVIP physicians limit the size of their practices in order to invest the time needed to provide highly individualized service and attention, including a comprehensive preventive care program and customized wellness plan. Published outcomes comparing MDVIP members to patients in traditional primary care practices include lower hospitalization rates, which yield significant cost savings to patients, employers, insurers and the healthcare system. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, MDVIP was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. For more information, visit, or @mdvip on Twitter.

MDVIP Medical Director Dr. Bernard Kaminetsky and MDVIP Chairman and CEO Bret Jorgensen
are available for interviews.