Does Poverty Make People Sicker?

They are one of the most influential federal agencies working in the U.S. healthcare industry—and they wanted to know what Dr. Amy Kind’s research had uncovered. So, naturally, she and her colleagues headed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to present findings and answer questions.

The interest centered around Dr. Kind’s principal research, which studies the correlation between socioeconomic disadvantage and reoccurrence of illness in older adults. Traditionally, census data is observed across broad areas, making it difficult to answer questions about smaller micro-targeted areas. What Dr. Kind and her team employed was a method more commonly used in the UK, Sweden, and elsewhere, studying the data at a much more granular level. What they found is that there is indeed a connection. In fact, they were able to show that individuals who suffered from socioeconomic disadvantage are 15% more likely to need follow-up hospitalization after treatment. And in many cases, these were situations that could have been prevented with a larger support network.

The team presented their findings to an interested panel of health professionals, who asked dozens of questions for 45 minutes following the presentation. Beyond being simply interested, the audience was even able to draw connections beyond re-admission into hospitals and onto other aspects of care. Particularly, the group was interested in how to improve care evaluations, and how to implement resources that will target disadvantaged patients and help reduce some of the vulnerabilities that cause repeated hospital visits.

We are, first and foremost, a community. And understanding how to knit a stronger community, one that does not let members fall through, will always be beneficial for us. Thanks to Dr. Kind and her team, health officials are working to make sure that no one falls through the gaps and suffers just because they are in a disadvantaged area.