Are the wealthier in better health than the poor? According to a research report, otherwise known as its annual National Report Card
, from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the health gap between the rich and the poor is growing and doctors and health professionals across the country say the findings are “worrisome.”
The association’s survey conducted by Ipsos Reid suggested that more than two-thirds of the individuals who earn salaries of $60,000 or more identified their health as either excellent or very good. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of survey respondents with incomes of less than $30,000 labelled their overall health as either excellent or very good.
The CMA says the disparity is growing. In its 2009 survey, there was only a gap of 17 percentage points, and now the gap is at 29.
Furthermore, the study found 46 percent of respondents with household incomes of $30,000 or less stated that they spend less time, money and energy maintaining their health during the economic downturn, which is considerably higher than the 19 percent of wealthier households who said the same thing.
“We as Canadians tend to think we have a fair society and an equitable public health care system when in reality there are vast numbers of Canadians who are forced to do without when it comes to health care,” said CMA President John Haggie in a press release
. “That is why the physicians of Canada are pressing for the transformation of health and health care - so that patient needs truly can be put first.”
Other findings showed that tobacco use is more apparent in the poorer income groups (33 percent) than the higher income groups (10 percent). Also, 59 percent of people earning less than $30,000 said they accessed some type of health care services in the past month, while 43 percent of the $60,000 income earners accessed the same services in the last 30 days.
More than a third of respondents graded their health care system a B and 39 percent gave it an A. This figure is up by four points when compared to last year’s report card.
The report was released during the CMA’s annual meeting held in Yellowknife from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15.