Who Are the Elderly Poor and How Much Are They Helped by Social and Health Policies?

Sanders Korenman, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Dahlia Remler, Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Rosemary Hyson , Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)

US poverty measures do not incorporate health needs and benefits. We developed a Health Inclusive Poverty Measure (HIPM) and estimated impacts of health insurance benefits on poverty. For those 65+, the HIPM poverty rate was 11.8%, nearly 2% points below the Supplemental (SPM) rate (13.7%). In contrast, among those under 65, the HIPM rate is lower than the SPM rate due to greater unmet insurance needs of the younger population. However, among Hispanics 65+, the HIPM and SPM are equal because fewer have Medicare and more are uninsured. Medicare and Social Security reduce HIPM poverty among those 65+, by 25% points and 38% points, respectively. The HIPM poverty gap after transfers is 4% among persons 65+ vs. 13% among those under 65. Compared to the HIPM-poor, the SPM-poor appear more socially advantaged: more likely to be college-educated and non-Hispanic White, and less likely to report public benefit receipt.

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 Presented in Session 81. Aging in the United States: Minorities and Other Vulnerable Populations