Among Non-Elderly Adults, Low-Income, American Indian/Alaska Native and Black Adults Have Higher Risk of Developing Serious Illness if Infected With Coronavirus

Among non-elderly adults, American Indian/Alaska Native and Black adults are more likely than Whites to be at higher risk of serious illness if infected with the new coronavirus — chiefly due to a higher prevalence of underlying health conditions and longstanding disparities in health care and other socio-economic factors, according to a new KFF analysis. People in lower-income households are also at higher risk.

The analysis finds that the share of non-elderly adults at higher risk of serious illness is 34 percent among American Indian/Alaska Natives and 27 percent among Blacks, compared to 21 percent of Whites. Asian adults are the least likely to be at higher risk of serious illness if infected (12%).

The analysis also finds that more than one in three (35%) non-elderly adults with household incomes below $15,000 are at higher risk of serious illness if infected with coronavirus, more than double the rate found among adults with household incomes greater than $50,000 (16%). Here again the higher risk arises due to a higher prevalence of underlying health conditions among non-elderly people with low incomes.

The new analysis builds upon previous work by KFF examining how many people in the U.S. are at higher risk of developing serious illness from coronavirus. The findings comport with emerging data on COVID-19 cases and deaths that suggest that serious illness from the disease is disproportionately affecting people in communities of color, due to the underlying health conditions and economic challenges faced by such groups.

Also available is a new short animation that examines the populations at higher risk for serious illness if they are infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

For the full analysis, and other KFF data and analyses related to COVID-19, visit kff.org.