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Disability Insurance Observer: Health Is Wealth

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Medicaid and other aid programs seem to be doing a pretty good job of helping poor people keep going, and group health coverage seems to be succeeding at maintaining the health of people who work and have decent incomes.

Working people with incomes of 100% to 200% of the federal poverty level may be worse off.

The overall percentage of U.S. adults ages 18 to 64 who lack health coverage increased just a little for most income groups in 2010, but the uninsured rate soared to 42.1%, from 38.9%, for people with incomes from 100% to 199% of the federal poverty level, according to Health, United States, 2011, a massive health data report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Past reports in the series have shed light on matters such as access to care, oral health, and claim reimbursement databases.

Possibly as a result, more people with incomes of 100% to 199% of the poverty level — working poor adults — said they felt bad.

The percentage of all adults who said they were in fair or poor health held pretty much steady between 2009 and 2010, creeping up to 10.1%, from 9.9%.

But the percentage of working poor adults who said they were in fair or poor health increased to 15.2%, from 14.9%.

The percentage of working poor adults who had lost all of their natural teeth jumped to 14.5%, from 13.4%.

The percentage of the working poor facing “Grade 3 Obesity” — having a body mass index greater than or equal to 40% — swelled to 8.1% during the 2007-2010 measurement period, from 6.3% in 2003-2006.

The Grade 3 Obesity level increased much more quickly for the working poor than for adults in other income groups.

The percentage of working poor adults with two or more serious chronic conditions — heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, kidney disease or asthma — increased to 30% in 2009-2010, from 24% in 1999-2000.

The percentages also rose for adults in other income groups, but not as quickly.

The other shoes has not yet fallen: Working poor adults were not yet experiencing any big increases in limits on activities in 2010. 

But it seems as if the lack of care, chronic conditions and Grade 3 obesity all those chornic condition will cause the other shoe to come thumping down sooner than we might like.

Some would say the statistics justify the coverage expansion provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Others would say that the statistics show how government meddling can distort markets and reduce some people’s access to care while helping politically favored others.

Either way, it seems as if this is a trend worth following.


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