MetLife: High-Income Americans Look Sicker

High-income U.S. residents tend to be healthier than low-income U.S. residents, but both groups seem to be more likely to suffer from chronic illness.

Lawrence Weiss and Marta Malone, researchers at the Center for Healthy Aging, have including data supporting that conclusion in a report distributed by the MetLife Mature Market Institute

The analysts looked at the health status of U.S. residents over 40.

In one section of the report, the analysts drew on survey data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see how the prevalance of chronic conditions changed between the 1999-2000 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) cycle and the 2009-2010 NHIS survey cycle.

The analysts broke data for U.S. residents ages 45 to 64 down by income, then determined how likely a member of each income group was to have two or more of nine common chronic conditions in either NHIS survey cycle.

The analysts then repeated the same exercise for U.S. residents ages 65 and older.

For people in the 45-64 age category with incomes below the federal poverty level, the percentage with two or more diagnosed chronic illnesses increased to 33%, from 31%.

For people the same age group with incomes at 400 percent of the federal poverty level or higher, the percentage with multiple chronic illnesses jumped to 16%, from 12%.

Similarly, in the 65-and-up age group, the percentage of people with multiple chronic illness diagnoses rose to 51%, from 43%, for the people in the lowest income category and to 39%, from 33%, for people in the highest income category.

Among people ages 45 and over, "growth in chronic conditions during the 10-year period reported is due to the prevalence of hypertension increase from 35% to 41%, diabetes from 10% to 15%, and cancer from 9% to 11%," the analysts said.

People with multiple chronic conditions are more likely to be hospitalized than other people and have more physician visits, the analysts said.

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Read They’re Wealthy, but Are They Healthy? on AdvisorOne.

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