Income affects health: Survey

More lower-income people not buying prescription drugs
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 08/17/2012

The health of Canadians is increasingly affected by how much money they earn, with lower income groups reporting poorer health and greater use of health services than those with higher incomes, according to a survey released by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

In describing their health, 39 per cent of those earning less than $30,000 a year said it was excellent or very good, compared to 68 per cent of those earning $60,000 or more — a gap of 29 percentage points. In 2009, the gap between the two income groups was 17 points.

"When it comes to the well-being of Canadians, the old saying that ‘Wealth equals health’ continues to ring true," said John Haggie, president of the CMA. "What is particularly worrisome for Canada's doctors is that in a nation as prosperous as Canada, the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' appears to be widening."

Income

Percentage gap

Less than
$30,000

More than $60,000

2012

2009

Excellent/very good health

39%

68%

29

17

Accessed health care within past month

59%

43%

16

0

Delay/stop buying prescription drugs

24%

3%

21

13

Diagnosed with chronic condition

41%

28%

13

9

Very/somewhat overweight

38%

32%

6

0

Has very/somewhat overweight children

22%

9%

13

5

Uses tobacco daily

33%

10%

23

12

Of those with household incomes of less than $30,000 per year, 46 per cent reported that as a result of the economic downturn, they have spent less time, energy and money on sustaining their health, compared to 19 per cent earning $60,000 or more.

In 2009, there was no difference between lower and higher-income Canadians in whether they accessed health-care services within the past month, said the CMA. But this year there is a gap as 59 per cent of Canadians who earn less than $30,000 a year accessed health-care services within the past month, compared to 43 per cent among those earning $60,000 or more.

Education also plays a significant role, found the survey of 1,004 Canadians. Those with a high school education or less are nearly twice as likely as those with a university education to have spent less time, energy and money sustaining their health as a result of the economic downturn (35 per cent versus 19 per cent).

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