Issue Brief

Internet Use Among Older Adults: Implications for the Federal Program Management

Internet Use Among Older Adults: Implications for the Federal Program Management
May, 2017
Jennifer Pooler, Mithuna Srinivasan
Workforce Development
Practice Areas
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Integrity
Impact Evaluations
Policy/Program Analysis
Survey Analysis

Approximately two-thirds of adults over age 60 have at least one chronic condition, but fewer than half of them use the Internet. Among other things, this can inhibit their ability to find the most cost-effective Medicare Part D Plan that will cover their prescription medications. This issue brief outlines the implications of low internet use among older adults for Federal program management.

Internet access will continue to play a key role in benefit enrollment and utilization, especially as state and federal governments continue to seek ways to integrate and streamline health and human services programs and cut administrative costs.

While the Internet may offer easy program access to a good proportion of the population, the needs and preferences of older adults, especially low-income older adults, cannot be overlooked. Practitioners and policymakers must understand the tendency of older adults to use the Internet, especially as the government seeks to eliminate barriers to participation. These programs are necessary in allowing older adults to manage their health and age in place, and Internet use will impact their ability to apply for and access the programs to which they are entitled.

IMPAQ used nationally representative survey data from the 2012– 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to examine Internet use among adults aged 60 and older for this issue brief.

Our data analysis seeks to inform policy makers, practitioners, and advocates about Internet use among older adults in the United States, and the implications of low rates of Internet use for program enrollment and benefit utilization. Suggestions for incorporating a human-centered approach to services are provided.