Higher-income Kentuckians’ reported health keeps declining; reports from those with lower incomes go up, marginally

A statewide poll again finds that Kentuckians with higher incomes consider themselves in better health than those with lower incomes.

The latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll, taken Oct. 8 through Nov. 6, found that 55 percent of Kentucky adults who are above 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) said their health was either “excellent” or “very good,” compared to 29 percent of Kentucky adults at or below 200 percent of the FPL. The FPL for a family of four in 2014 was $47,700.

However, the percentage of Kentucky adults in the higher-income category reporting excellent or very good health has dropped significantly since the poll started asking this question in 2008, to 55 percent in 2014 from 66 percent in 2008. So has the overall percentage of Kentucky adults reporting excellent or very good health, dropping to 41 percent in 2014 from 49 percent in 2008.

The percentage of lower-income Kentucky adults reporting excellent or very good has been about the same since 2008. This year the poll found a 3 percent increase among those in this group who reported very good or excellent health. The difference is not statistically significant, but coincides with implementation of federal health reform, and and if it continues could show the law’s impact.

The poll also found that 52 percent of adults age 45 and younger considered their health as excellent or very good while 33 percent of those over age 45 reported excellent or very good health.

“KHIP provides important data regarding the connections among a person’s age, earnings level and perceived health status,” said Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsored the poll. “By asking the same question year to year, we can spot trends in perceived health. The latest results are an important reminder of the links between poverty and poor health.”

The poll is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati and is co-sponsored by Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It surveyed a random sample of 1,597 adults via land lines and cell phones, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. That applies to each figure, making the 3 percent difference statistically insignifcant.

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