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A Profile of Older Americans: 2007

Health and Health Care

In 2006, 39.0% of noninstitutionalized older persons assessed their heath as excellent or very good (compared to 65.1% 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 very 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%).

Over 64% reported in 2006 that they received an influenza vaccination during the past 12 months and 57% reported that they had ever received a pneumococcal vaccination.  Almost 25% (of persons 60+) report height/weight combinations that place them among the obese.  Over 26% of persons aged 65-74 and 17% of persons 75+ report that they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity.  Only 10.2% reported that they are current smokers and only 4% reported excessive alcohol consumption.  Only 2.0% reported that they had experienced psychological distress during the past 30 days.

In 2005, over 13.2 million persons aged 65 and older were discharged from short stay hospitals.  This is a rate of 3,596 for every 10,000 persons aged 65+ which is over three times the comparable rate for persons of all ages (which was 1,174 per 10,000).  The average length of stay for persons aged 65+ was 5.5 days; the comparable rate for persons of all ages was 4.8 days. The average length of stay for older people has decreased by 6 days since 1980. Older persons averaged more office visits with doctors in 2005:  6.5 office visits for those aged 65-74 and 7.7 office visits for persons over 75 while persons aged 45-65 averaged only 3.9 office visits during that year.  In 2006, over 96% of older persons reported that they did have a usual place to go for medical care and only 2.3% said that they failed to obtain needed medical care during the previous 12 months due to financial barriers.

In 2005 older consumers averaged $4,331 in out-of-pocket health care expenditures, an increase of 57% since 1995.  In contrast, the total population spent considerably less, averaging $2,766 in out-of-pocket costs. Older Americans spent 12.4% 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 2005 consisted of $2,617 (60%) for insurance, $887 (20%) for drugs, $663 (15.3%) for medical services, and $164 (4%) 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 2007 - Health Insurance Coverage