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A Profile of Older Americans: 2006

Health and Health Care

In 2005, 38.3% of noninstitutionalized older persons assessed their heath as excellent or very good (compared to 66.8% for persons aged 18-64). There was little difference between the sexes on this measure, but African-Americans** (22.8%), older American Indians/Alaska Natives (24.2%) and older Hispanics (28.4%) were less likely to rate their health as excellent or good than were older Whites** (40.9%) or older Asians (34.9%).† Most older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. Among the most frequently occurring conditions older persons in 2004-2005 were: hypertension (48%), diagnosed arthritis (47%), all types of heart disease (29%), any cancer (20%), diabetes (16%), and sinusitis (14%).

Almost 60% reported in 2005 that they received an influenza vaccination during the past 12 months and 56% reported that they had ever received a pneumococcal vaccination. About 24% (of persons 60+) report height/weight combinations that place them among the obese. Over 25% of persons aged 65-74 and 17% of persons 75+ report that they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity. Only 9% reported that they are current smokers and only 4% reported excessive alcohol consumption. Only 2.6% reported that they had experienced psychological distress during the past 30 days.

In 2004, over 13.2 million persons aged 65 and older were discharged from short stay hospitals. This is a rate of 3,629 for every 10,000 persons aged 65+ which is over two and one half times the comparable rate for persons of all ages (which was 1,384 per 10,000). The average length of stay for persons aged 65+ was 5.6 days; the comparable rate for persons of all ages was 4.8 days. The average length of stay for older people has decreased by 5 days since 1980. Older persons averaged more office visits with doctors 

in 2003-4: 6.1 office visits for those aged 65-74 and 7.6 office visits for persons over 75 while persons aged 45-65 averaged only 3.7 office visits during that year. Over 96% of older persons reported that they did have a usual place to go for medical care and only 2.4% said that they failed to obtain needed medical care during the previous 12 months due to financial barriers.

In 2004, older consumers averaged $4193 in out-of-pocket health care expenditures, an increase of 58% since 1994. In contrast, the total population spent considerably less, averaging $2,664 in out-of-pocket costs. Older Americans spent 12.8% of their total expenditures on health, more than twice the proportion spent by all consumers (5.7%). Health costs incurred on average by older consumers in 2004 consisted of $2,307 (55%) for insurance, $977 (23%) for drugs, $769 (18%) for medical services, and $140 (3%) for medical supplies.

(Sources: Data releases from the websites of the National Center for Health Statistics (including the Data Warehouse on Trends in Health and Aging); from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website)

† These figures are from 2004 data.

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AoA - Statistics - A Profile of Older Americans 2006 - Health Insurance Coverage