Successful health outcomes require a positive alliance between health provider and patient, especially for older patients often managing chronic medical conditions. We predicted that age differences between physician and patient could serve as a social category cue that impacts older patients’ cooperation. Older adults evaluated a hypothetical physician visit (Study 1, N = 308), a hypothetical physician’s web page (Study 2, N = 339) or described their most recent visit to a physician (Study 3, N = 448). Physician treatment (e.g., respect) and visit outcomes (e.g., the physician’s ability to recognize and address their symptoms) shaped patients’ trust, compliance and willingness to disclose medically relevant information. However, when the physician was much younger than the participant, visit outcomes more strongly predicted their perceptions of physician trustworthiness (Study 1), their willingness to disclose information (Study 3) and their willingness to comply (Studies 1 and 2). When the physician was close to the participants’ age, physician treatment shaped participants’ willingness to disclose information more strongly (Study 3). Large age differences can prime intergroup differences that make establishing a bond between healthcare provider and patient more challenging. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article’s Community and Social Impact Statement.