ADMINISTRATION FOR COMMUNITY LIVING; CDC report illustrates increased risks of COVID-19 for people with disabilities
In a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC reports findings from a comparison of data on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from January 2020 to November 2021 for two groups of Medicare beneficiaries:
- Adults (of any age) who were initially eligible for Medicare due to disability (“disability-eligible beneficiaries”).
- Beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare when they turned 65 (“age-eligible beneficiaries”).
(People who became eligible for Medicare due to disability but who had reached the age of 65 were counted only in the disability-eligible group; nearly half of the disability-eligible beneficiaries were over the age of 65.)
Overall, incidence and hospitalization rates were significantly higher for disability-eligible beneficiaries than for age-eligible beneficiaries.
- The overall incidence rate was 35 percent higher for disability-eligible beneficiaries
- The overall hospitalization rate was nearly 50 percent higher for disability-eligible beneficiaries.
- The one exception was for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) beneficiaries; rates were higher for age-eligible AI/AN beneficiaries than for disability-eligible AI/AN beneficiaries.
The differences in hospitalization rates are even more stark for people 65 and older.
- For people ages 65-74, the hospitalization rate for disability-eligible beneficiaries was more than two and a half times that of people without disabilities.
- Disability-eligible beneficiaries ages 75-84 were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized than their age-eligible peers.
For both groups:
- Hospitalization rates were highest for AI/AN beneficiaries, followed closely by Black and then Hispanic beneficiaries.
- Incidence rates also were highest for AI/AN beneficiaries, followed by Hispanic and then Black beneficiaries.
- Both incidence and hospitalization rates increased with age .
It’s important to note that the report findings cannot be extrapolated to say that all people with disabilities are at higher risk of hospitalization than older adults.