Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

MetLife: High-income Americans look sicker

Obesity and other problems could be decreasing consumers' reserves of health-based wealth. (AP photo/Jeff Chiu)
Obesity and other problems could be decreasing consumers' reserves of health-based wealth. (AP photo/Jeff Chiu)

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 100 percent of the federal poverty level, the percentage with two or more diagnosed chronic illnesses increased to 33 percent, from 31 percent.

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 percent, from 12 percent.

Similarly, in the 65-and-up age group, the percentage of multiple with multiple chronic illness diagnoses rose to 51 percent, from 43 percent, for the people in the lowest income category and to 39 percent, from 33 percent, 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 percent to 41 percent, diabetes from 10 percent to 15 percent, and cancer from 9 percent to 11 percent," 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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