New CMS Research Looks at Health Disparities Impacting Older LGBT People

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released research drawn from the 2013-14 National Health Interview Survey highlighting health disparities between LGBT and other older people (age 65 or older). The National Health Interview Survey is a wide-ranging survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics through household interviews. The US Census has been collecting this data for the last 50 years.[1]

Key Findings

  • 51.3% of LGBT elders reported they had been tested for HIV at least once before, while only 15.8% of other older people stated that they had been tested for HIV once before.[2]
  • 14.5% of LGBT respondents stated that they had five or more alcoholic drinks a day as compared to 6.7% of heterosexual elders.[3]
  • 79.9% of LGBT elders reported having received a flu vaccine in the previous year as compared to 68.8% of heterosexual respondents.<a data-cke-saved-href=”#_ftn4″ href=”#_ftn4″ name=”_ftnref4>[4]
  • 9.1% of LGBT elders surveyed said they were current smokers as compared to 8.6% of other older people.[5]
  • Heterosexual and LGBT elders stated that they had similar levels of access to a regular source of medical care” (at 96.1 and 96.6%, respectively).[6]
  • Older LGBT people are more likely than their majority counterparts to be told they have cancer at 29.1% and 23.4%, respectively.[7]

As part of an effort to address health disparities for LGBT elders, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of aging organizations of which the Center for Medicare Advocacy is a member, advocates for including older adults with HIV as a “population of greatest social need” within a future reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.  Such a designation is key for older LGBT people as it would allocate funds toward any HIV-focused education effort.

[1] CDC. “National Health Interview Survey.” (site visited July 26, 2016).
[2] CMS. “Health Disparities Experienced among Older Sexual Minorities: National Health Interview Survey, 2013–2014.” No. 5. June 2016.  (site visited July 26, 2016). P. 4.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid. P. 4.
[5] Ibid. P. 5.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.