Low-income women more likely to suffer ill health

January 4th, 2010 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 4 (IANS) Low-income women are four times more likely to suffer from ill health than their higher-income counterparts.
They are also nearly twice as likely to admit a condition that limits their basic physical activities, says a report from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Centre for Health Policy Research.

These limiting conditions include basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, lifting or carrying.

These women also experience inadequate access to health insurance and healthcare to a far greater degree than their higher-income counterparts, the study found.

Based on data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the research represents the most comprehensive overview of the health of 3.8 million women aged between 18 and 64 years, with incomes below the federal poverty level (FPL).

However, “the data was collected before the recession, and low-income women are particularly vulnerable to downturns in the economy, which means that their status is likely to be even worse today,” said Roberta Wyn, associate director of the UCLA Centre and co-author of the report.

“Women, especially in poor families, are often breadwinners whose good health is essential to keeping their families afloat,” Wyn said. “Improving the health status of these women is an essential coping strategy for the state as a whole during economic hard times.”

Poorer women were less likely to see a physician with 20 percent of them reporting no visits to a physician in the past year, compared with eight percent of higher-income women.

They get less preventive screening: Low-income women are the least likely to be screened for cervical and breast cancer, while screening rates increase among higher-income women, said an UCLA release.

One-fifth of low-income women had not received a Pap test in the past three years. Among low-income women between the ages of 40 and 64, one-third had not received a mammogram in the past two years.

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