Seniors with seven chronic conditions are especially vulnerable to ending up in the hospital due to exposure to the coronavirus, according to newly updated data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
CMS says that nearly 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, between the start of the year and Sept. 12. Of those beneficiaries, more than 332,000 were hospitalized with a COVID-19 diagnosis during that period.
Those numbers, released Nov. 19, reflect cases and hospitalizations that CMS knew about as of Oct. 9. The federal agency notes that all data in its latest report “will continue to change as CMS processes additional claims and encounters for the reporting period.”
The data reveals that seven chronic conditions were most common among the Medicare beneficiaries who had been hospitalized:
- Hypertension: 80%
- Hyperlipidemia: 62%
- Chronic kidney disease: 51%
- Diabetes: 50%
- Anemia: 48%
- Ischemic heart disease: 46%
- Rheumatoid arthritis/osteoarthritis: 46%
Of the beneficiaries who were hospitalized, 21% died and 32% were discharged to their homes. The others moved from the hospital to skilled nursing facilities (22%), home health care (14%), hospice (5%) or other health care settings, CMS says.
About half of the hospital stays lasted for fewer than eight days, while 12% percent of the stays were at least 21 days.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are age 65 and older or have certain disabilities.
Virus afflicts people of color, the elderly and the poor
The coronavirus appears to be affecting people of color, older adults and the poor in greater numbers, and that disparity also shows up in the Medicare data.
CMS says COVID-19 hospitalization rates are especially high for:
- Black beneficiaries (1,263 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Hispanic beneficiaries (967 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Beneficiaries who are age 85 or older (1,003 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Beneficiaries who are age 75 to 84 (604 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, the government insurance program for people with low incomes (1,374 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
By comparison, the overall rate for all Medicare beneficiaries was 517 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Regardless of your race, ethnicity, age or financial standing, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Some measures are obvious or have gotten a lot of media attention. You can find helpful tips in the following stories:
Other ways to keep the coronavirus at bay might be less obvious. You can learn more about them in:
- “Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19“
- “Here’s an Easy Way to Avoid Crowds at Stores“
- “How to Protect Your Eyes From the Coronavirus“
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