AARP Public Policy Institute has released a new report examining the use of preventive services and the prevalence of risk factors among midlife adults. The report, "Use of Clinical Preventive Services and Prevalence of Health Risk Factors Among Adults Aged 50-64," breaks down national and state-level data by racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and health insurance coverage status and highlights disparities across these groups. Accompanying the report is an interactive online tool that allows users to customize the data to rank states and highlight disparities as well as compare states to national target rates.
In 2011, there were more than 60 million adults between the ages of 50 and 64 in the United States. For this group, maintaining a healthy lifestyle along with having routine recommended screenings and immunizations is critical to healthy aging. Yet, the report finds that Americans in this age group underuse preventive services and face considerable health challenges: fewer than 1 in 3 are up-to-date with select recommended preventive services, 44 percent have high blood pressure and 33 percent are obese.
Uninsured Americans, racial/ethnic minorities and those of low socioeconomic status face even greater challenges to achieving healthy aging. Based on analysis of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey data from 2009-2011, the report shows that uninsured women aged 50-64 were 41 percent less likely to have a mammogram than insured women. Adults with low-income were 28 percent less likely to receive the flu vaccine than those with higher income. And African Americans were the most likely to report adverse health risk factors.
The Affordable Care Act creates new options for health coverage that begin next year and expands access - and makes free of charge - a number of these important preventive benefits and immunizations. The report highlights the need for supporting and promoting these new benefits given the evidence that having health insurance coverage makes a real difference in preventive services utilization rates and prevalence of risk factors.
"It is evident that the need for improved access to low- or no-cost preventive services - like measures contained in the Affordable Care Act - as well as increased public awareness, are vital to improving the health of many Americans," said Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy Institute. "Maintaining your health is critical to living your life to the fullest, especially for midlife adults. Taking advantage of preventive services is an important way to do just that."
The full report, "Use of Clinical Preventive Services and Prevalence of Health Risk Factors Among Adults Aged 50-64" is available here: http://www.aarp.org/health/health-insurance/info-08-2013/use-of-clinical-preventive-services-and-prevalence-AARP-ppi-health.html
The online tool, State Preventive Care Rankings for Midlife Adults, is available here: http://www.aarp.org/State-Preventive-Care-Rankings