Objective: Examine the association between poverty and preventive care use among older working adults.
Method: Cross-sectional analysis of the pooled 1996, 1998 and 2000 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of older community-dwelling adults, studying self-reported use of cervical, breast, and prostate cancer screening, as well as serum cholesterol screening and influenza vaccination. Adults with incomes within 200% of the federal poverty level were defined as poor.
Results: Among 10,088 older working adults, overall preventive care use ranged from 38% (influenza vaccination) to 76% (breast cancer screening). In unadjusted analyses, the working poor were significantly less likely to receive preventive care. After adjustment for insurance coverage, education, and other socio-demographic characteristics, the working poor remained significantly less likely to receive breast cancer (RR 0.92, 95% CI, 0.86-0.96), prostate cancer (RR 0.89, 95% CI, 0.81-0.97), and cholesterol screening (RR 0.91, 95% CI, 0.86-0.96) than the working non-poor, but were not significantly less likely to receive cervical cancer screening (RR 0.96, 95% CI, 0.90-1.01) or influenza vaccination (RR 0.92, 95% CI, 0.84-1.01).
Conclusion: The older working poor are at modestly increased risk for not receiving preventive care.