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Hidden Health Problems Among California's "Hidden Poor"

February 29, 2016

Fact Sheet

Authors: Steven P. Wallace, PhD, D. Imelda Padilla-Frausto, PhD, MPH

Almost one-quarter (24.2 percent), or 655,000 California adults ages 65 and older living alone or with only their spouse/partner had a 2013 income above the federal poverty level (FPL) but below the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index), according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey. This group of "hidden poor" are almost twice as likely to identify as being in poor or fair health, feel depressed, and report that they cannot get timely health care compared to their wealthier counterparts.

Using 2013-2014 California Health Interview Survey data, authors found 34 percent of the hidden poor group self-identified as being in "fair" or "poor" health, a rate almost twice as high as those with incomes above the Elder Index (17.5 percent). Hidden poor seniors had a higher rate of feeling depressed "some, most or all of the time" (10.6 percent) compared to 3.4 percent of the wealthier group. Almost twice as many had difficulty obtaining timely medical care (22.2 percent) compared with the wealthier group (11.9 percent). Older adults among the hidden poor also face barriers to care.


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