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US study reveals income, race determines who will contract COVID-19 among the elderly

News Agencies | Updated on: 24 June 2020, 8:42 IST

As the US continues to witness an everyday surge in the number of coronavirus cases, income and race seem to be determining who among the country's elderly population has been infected with the virus.

According to a federal analysis reported in The Washington Post, black Americans are more prone to be infected with the virus and get hospitalised than other racial and ethnic groups. Poverty also has a major role in the matter.

The findings are based on billing records for people on Medicare who have contracted the virus. According to billing records from more than 325,000 cases from January through mid-May, individuals entitled for Medicare, the federal insurance programme for older Americans, who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, the public insurance safety net, were four times more likely to have been infected or hospitalised with the coronavirus than those on Medicare alone.

This is the government's first attempt to analyse the way the virus has penetrated the nation's older population.

The new findings reveal that for men, women and every racial, ethnic and age group of Medicare beneficiaries, the rate of coronavirus cases among those with incomes low enough to be on Medicaid is far higher than for everyone else.

Among those 65 and older, known in health-policy parlance as "dual eligibles," 1,732 out of 100,000 people were infected, compared with 320 on Medicare alone.

"At the end of the day the data analysis reconfirms long-standing issues around disparities and vulnerable populations," Seema Verma, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which performed the analysis, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the officials have termed the analysis a snapshot. They said that the data is incomplete as doctors, hospitals and others are allowed up to a year to submit claims to the Medicare programme.

As per the latest data by the Johns Hopkins University, the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the US is 2,345,854 and 121,217 people have till now succumbed to the disease.


First published: 24 June 2020, 8:42 IST