Canadians in lower income groups report poorer health than their wealthier counterparts, a poll for the Canadian Medical Association suggests.
The group’s annual report card is being released today at its meeting in Yellowknife.
The gap in self-reported health status between income groups seems to be growing, with 39 per cent of those whose households earned less than $30,000 a year describing their health as excellent or very good compared with 68 per cent of those earning $60,000 or more.
“When it comes to the well-being of Canadians, the old saying that wealth equals health continues to ring true,” Dr. John Haggie, president of the CMA, said in a release.
“What is particularly worrisome for Canada’s doctors is that in a nation as prosperous as Canada, the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ appears to be widening.”
People in the lowest income bracket also reported accessing health-care services more often in the past month, 59 per cent, compared with 43 per cent among those earning the most income.
In 2009, there was no difference between lower and higher-income Canadians in whether they accessed health-care services within the past month.
Those with the lowest incomes were also more likely to report being diagnosed with a chronic condition, 41 per cent, than those with household incomes of $60,000 or more, 28 per cent.
Education also appeared to have an impact.
Eating habits and income gap
Canadians earning less than $30,000 a year and have less than a high school education were more likely to describe their health as fair or poor, 16 per cent, compared with those earning $60,000 or more, six per cent, and those with a university degree or higher, seven per cent.
The eating habits of Canadians earning $30,000 or less were more likely to be described as “OK” or “not very healthy,” 33 per cent, than those earning the most, 23 per cent.
About half of those surveyed, 45 per cent, said there is too much to know about healthy eating.
In terms of eating habits, those earning the least were much less likely to say they ate five servings of fruits and vegetables every day or often, 50 per cent, compared with 66 per cent among those earning the most.
The same was true for physical activity levels and income: 52 per cent versus 57 per cent.
More than one in five Canadians, 22 per cent, said they’d delayed or cancelled a dentist appointment because of financial concerns.
Between July 25 and July 30, Ipsos Reid surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Canadian adults by telephone. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The 2009 findings were based on an online survey of 3,223 Canadian adults by Ipsos between June 25 and July 11, 2009.
The CMA’s annual meeting ends on Wednesday.