Optimists: all is well, until it isn’t

According to some, the age of the well-informed and well-off mature patient has arrived, bringing with it the possibility of reduced health-care costs and better health. But is this the case? We look at our Optimists, one of our Health segments and 24% of the U.S. population 40 and older. Those in this segment are well educated: 26% have a college degree or more as compared to 29.72% percent in the U.S. 40 and older age group. While those 40 and older have a median household income of $49,750, the Optimists have slightly less at $46,670. And 90% of the Optimists have health insurance, comparable to the 88% nationally for the 40 to 64 age group.

While the Optimists believe they are healthy, we can’t be sure because those in this segment rarely visit a doctor. Almost a quarter of them (24%) don’t even have one doctor visit a year. Of those Optimists who have had a doctor visit, they have done so on average 2.5 times a year. In contrast, Faithful Patients, another Health segment, make on average 4.1 doctor visits a year. The unfortunate result of infrequent doctor visits is that when Optimists are 70 and older they are hit with a tsunami of conditions and diseases that have few if any outward signs.

For example, in comparing Optimists 60 to 69 to those 70 and older, the rate of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol soars. The behavior of the Optimists demonstrates that education, comparable income, and health insurance do not of themselves guarantee wise and informed health consumers. A segment’s health-related attitudes must be considered as shaping the choices that determine health.

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