Methods: Using data from 2019 Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, we identified 1,204 older homeless adults aged 55 and over. The data shared contained demographic information (e.g., age, sex, race/ethnicity, health insurance) of clients receiving housing service (e.g., transitional housing, supportive housing, permanent housing, etc.) in Tampa, FL (Hillsborough County) between October 2018 and September 2019. We conducted multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses. Our study included two dependent variables, “Health Insurance” and “Independent Living.”. “Health Insurance” analyzed the type of health insurance participants had and information was aggregated and coded to be a dichotomous variable. The second dependent variable was whether an individual became independent from subsidized housing.
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 62 years. Age, gender, a physical disability, and a mental health condition were significant factors associated with having health insurance. After controlling for demographic characteristics and clinical factors, those who were covered by health insurance were more likely to live independently (p=.011). In addition, those who reported alcohol use were less likely to be independent (p=.001).
Conclusions and Implications: This study’s findings support the importance of older homeless adults having health insurance to ensure their transition from homelessness to independent living within the community. The young-old are not eligible for either traditional medical insurance or federal or state healthcare programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Females tend to be under-insured across the nation. Policy changes are required to ensure access to healthcare despite age. As older adults with alcohol abuse were less likely to become independent, community practitioners should help them connect to and maintain with substance use treatment programs. Health insurance may play an important role to provide a long-term opportunity to utilize health care services as they age.