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Uninsured Adults Aged 65 Years and Older: Is Their Health at Risk?

Some U.S. adults aged 65 years and older lack health care coverage. As a result, they may have unmet health needs and be vulnerable to excess morbidity and mortality. Due to their small numbers, little data on them exist. We used data from the 1996–2000 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing telephone survey operated by the state health departments with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to examine a representative sample of adults 65 years old and older. We found that blacks and Hispanics were disproportionately represented among uninsured older adults. Compared with their insured counterparts, the uninsured elderly experienced cost barriers to needed care, lacked receipt of an annual checkup, and did not receive preventive health screenings. Given the projected growth of the elderly population, particularly among blacks and Hispanics, it is crucial to ensure all older adults have access to preventive health services.