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Older Americans see decline in health

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The National Center for Health Statistics has found that older Americans with private health insurance are experiencing higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. The NCHS interviewed adults 55 and older between 2004 and 2007 for the study. The NCHS conducted similar interviews between 2000 and 2003.

Of the later group, only 22.9 percent said they were in fair or poor health, down from 23.2 percent in the earlier sample. However, the fair-to-poor health self-assessment improved mainly in the 75 and older group. The number of adults 55 to 74 who reported being in fair-to-poor health remained about the same between the two surveys.

Researchers interviewed adults aged 85 or older who possess some form of private health insurance and found that the number who reported being in fair-to-poor health had dropped from 29.8 percent to 29 percent. In this group, high blood pressure increased from 52.3 percent to 56.2 percent while the number with diabetes rose from 9.9 percent to 12.9 percent.

The NCHS did not examine whether the increase in hypertension and diabetes may have been caused by changes in the way doctors detect, treat and advise patients or because of actually increases in the incidence of these diseases.
It was clear, however, that possessing some kind of private health coverage and earning a higher income corresponded with better overall heath. The researchers concluded, “Poor and near poor adults and those with Medicaid had higher rates of most of the health conditions and impairments studied.”


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