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Medicare: A Strategy for Quality Assurance - Volume I
TABLE 3.7 Percentages of the Elderly Population with Annual Incomes Below the Poverty Level by Sex and Age Group: 1986
SOURCE: Special Committee on Aging, 1987–1988.
that case, the proportion of poor elderly would increase from about 13 percent to about 15.2 percent of the total elderly group. At that point, the poverty rate would be higher for the elderly than for the overall population (Villers Foundation, 1987).
Poverty rates are higher for elderly women than elderly men, especially among the younger elderly (Table 3.7). In addition, poverty rates are higher among minority elderly than white elderly.
USE OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
Throughout the 1970s, the hospital discharge rate increased almost 12 percent for all age groups and nearly 23 percent among those persons age 65 and older. Conversely, during the same time period, average length of stay declined, with the greatest declines among the elderly. The change in utilization patterns during the 1970s has been attributed partially to implementation of the Medicare program and partially to advances in medical technology (NCHS, 1987b).
After the implementation of the Medicare prospective payment system (PPS), the hospital discharge rate for the U.S. population began to decline. Data from the NCHS National Health Interview Survey suggest that the drop experienced in the mid-1980s began to subside in 1987 (NCHS, 1988c). Similarly, the decline in the average length of stay for the U.S. population since PPS has also begun to level off (Table 3.8).
The number of physician contacts among the elderly population has increased significantly since the beginning of the Medicare program, owing in