Seniors with five chronic conditions are especially vulnerable to ending up in the hospital due to exposure to the coronavirus, according to new data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
CMS says more than 325,000 Original Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, between the start of the year and May 16. Of those beneficiaries, 111,000 were hospitalized during that period.
The CMS data reveals that five chronic conditions were most commonly found among the Original Medicare beneficiaries who had been hospitalized:
- Hypertension: 79%
- Hyperlipidemia: 60%
- Chronic kidney disease: 50%
- Anemia: 50%
- Diabetes: 50%
Of the beneficiaries who were hospitalized, 28% died in the hospital and 27% were discharged to their homes. The others moved from the hospital to skilled nursing facilities (21%) or other health care settings, CMS says.
Half of the hospital stays lasted for fewer than eight days, while 9% percent of the stays were at least 21 days.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older and some younger people with disabilities. Original Medicare is the more common of two types of Medicare, the other being Medicare Advantage plans from private insurers approved to provide Medicare benefits.
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 (465 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Hispanic beneficiaries (258 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Beneficiaries who are age 85 or older (379 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
- Beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, the government insurance program for people with low incomes (473 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries)
By comparison with that last group, the rate for beneficiaries enrolled only in Medicare is 112 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. For one example, check out “Doing This in the Car Can Reduce Your Coronavirus Risk.”
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