Vulnerable populations include the economically disadvantaged, the uninsured, low-income children, racial minorities, the elderly and the homeless. Those who live with chronic health conditions, such as HIV or severe mental illness, are also part of a vulnerable population. Vulnerable populations may also include rural residents with limited access to health care.
The vulnerability of these people can increase depending on factors such as age, race, sex, income, insurance coverage and inaccessibility to a provider. The health needs of vulnerable populations are divided into three categories: physical, psychological and social. Some people who might have physical needs are high-risk mothers and infants as well as those with chronic medical diseases such as HIV, diabetes and heart disease. Some people with psychological needs are those with mental conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Some additional vulnerable populations with social needs are those with abusive families and refugees.
It is important to consider these factors, because chronic illnesses occurs more often among disadvantaged populations. These disorders also impact people who are unemployed, uninsured and uneducated more severely. Those without health insurance are significantly less likely to see a health care provider or fill a prescription due to the high costs.