Study Compares Health of HUD-Assisted Renters to the General Adult Population
HUD recently released a report that compared the health of HUD-assisted adults to the general adult population. The report is called “A Health Picture of HUD-Assisted Adults.” In 2011, HUD and the National Center for Health Statistics agreed to link administrative records for individuals receiving housing assistance from HUD with records from the National Health Interview Survey.
The report uses the linked data for 2006 through 2012 to present a broad statistical summary of demographic characteristics, health diagnoses and conditions, and health care access and utilization for HUD-assisted adults. Similar estimates were provided for two other relevant subgroups: unassisted adult renters with incomes below the federal poverty line and all adults in the U.S. population.
Here are some of the report’s findings:
General health status. More than one-third of HUD-assisted adults reported their health as either fair or poor, a proportion considerably higher than that reported among unassisted low-income renters and the general adult population. Additionally, HUD-assisted tenants reported the highest rate of “utilizing the emergency room two or more times during the prior 12 months.” The majority of HUD-assisted adults were overweight or obese and more than one-half of them lived with a disability at the time of their health interview.
Health conditions and diagnoses. This report explored 10 health conditions and diagnoses. Relative to unassisted low-income renters and the general adult population, HUD-assisted adults reported greater prevalence for all 10 health conditions and diagnoses, including serious chronic ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.
Mental health and productivity lost. HUD-assisted adult tenants faced higher rates of serious psychological distress and distress with mental hardship than did unassisted low-income renters and the general adult population. HUD tenants also faced higher rates of productivity loss due to injury or illness.
Healthcare utilization and access. HUD-assisted renters reported higher rates of healthcare access and utilization than unassisted low-income renters on several indicators. For example, the majority of HUD-assisted adults reported having public health insurance. A relatively small proportion of HUD tenants reported lacking a usual source of care, and a large percentage reported having access to doctors, Health Maintenance Organizations, and health clinics. On the other hand, HUD tenants and their unassisted low-income counterparts reported similarly high rates of unmet healthcare needs due to cost.
Health behaviors. This report explored three health behaviors: cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use, and physical activity. Relative to the other adult groups examined, unassisted low-income renters displayed the least healthy behaviors for two indicators—cigarette smoking and heavy drinking. HUD-assisted renters had the least healthy behavior for one outcome, with low levels of physical activity, and the most healthy behavior for another outcome, with the lowest rate of heavy alcohol use.
Additionally, cigarette smoking prevalence was similar among HUD-assisted adults and unassisted, low-income renters; approximately one-third of adults reported current smoking at the time of their health interview.