Who's at Risk When the Power Goes Out? The At-home Electricity-Dependent Population in the United States, 2012
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Who's at Risk When the Power Goes Out? The At-home Electricity-Dependent Population in the United States, 2012

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Public Health Manag Pract
  • Description:

    Natural and man-made disasters can result in power outages that can affect certain vulnerable populations dependent on electrically powered durable medical equipment. This study estimated the size and prevalence of that electricity-dependent population residing at home in the United States.


    We used the Truven Health MarketScan* 2012 database to estimate the number of employer-sponsored privately insured enrollees by geography, age group, and sex who resided at home and were dependent upon electrically powered durable medical equipment to sustain life. We estimated nationally representative prevalence and used US Census population estimates to extrapolate the national population and produce maps visualizing prevalence and distribution of electricity-dependent populations residing at home.


    As of 2012, among the 175 million persons covered by employer-sponsored private insurance, the estimated number of electricity-dependent persons residing at home was 366 619 (95% confidence interval: 365 700-367 537), with a national prevalence of 218.2 per 100 000 covered lives (95% confidence interval: 217.7-218.8). Prevalence varied significantly by age group (χ2 = 264 289 95, P < .0001) and region (χ2 = 12 286 30, P < .0001), with highest prevalence in those 65 years of age or older and in the South and the West. Across all insurance types in the United States, approximately 685 000 electricity-dependent persons resided at home.


    These results may assist public health jurisdictions addressing unique needs and necessary resources for this particularly vulnerable population. Results can verify and enhance the development of functional needs registries, which are needed to help first responders target efforts to those most vulnerable during disasters affecting the power supply.

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