July 16, 2024

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Medicare beneficiaries face multiple hurdles to see neurologists

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According to a study published recently in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), almost one in five people on Medicare travel 50 or more miles one way to see a neurologist. Patients who require specialized neurologic care for diseases including brain cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS), travel long distances the most often.

Neurologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain and the central nervous system. Since our brains and nervous system are part of the normal aging process, neurological issues are more common as we get older. In fact, according to a review of studies, aging is the main risk factor for most neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). The findings also showed that 10% of people aged 65 years or older have AD, and it becomes more common with increasing age.

The prevalence of neurological and nervous system issues in people 65 and older makes the need for better neurological options for Medicare patients even more important.

“Our study found a substantial travel burden exists for some people with neurologic conditions, including people living in areas with fewer neurologists and rural areas,” said study author and chair of the American Academy of Neurology’s Health Services Research Subcommittee Dr. Brian C. Callaghan, of the University of Michigan Health in Ann Arbor, said in a news release. “We also found that people who traveled long distances were less likely to return for a follow‐up visit with a neurologist.”

The wide-ranging study included over 563,000 participants on Medicare, at an average age of 70, who saw a neurologist at least once during the one-year study. For the study, 14,439 neurologists provided care to participants in over 1.2 million office visits.

The findings showed that more than 96,000 people, or 17%, traveled long distances…

Margie Zable Fisher

2023-11-26 05:00:00

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