Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby Boomers most likely to benefit from health reform provisions, survey finds

Effective 2014, when most of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) take effect, nearly one-fifth of the uninsured gaining health coverage will be adults between the ages 50 and 64, according to a new analysis from the Commonwealth Fund, Realizing Health Reform's Potential: Adults Ages 50-64 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Up to 6.8 million of the 8.6 million adults in the age group of 50 to 64 were uninsured in 2009, and they may gain subsidized insurance through Medicaid (3.3 million in families earning less than 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL)) and through the new health insurance exchanges (3.5 million earning less than 400% of FPL). An additional 1.4 million individuals with higher incomes will have access to comprehensive health plans with new consumer protections. Another estimated 9.7 million adults in this age group with health insurance having such high out-of-pocket costs that they are considered underinsured would have access to more comprehensive benefit packages and more cost protection, the Commonwealth Fund noted.

Sixteen states with uninsured rates higher than the national average of 14.2% for adults in the studied age group in 2008 and 2009 will see particularly large gains in insured rates. The states are: Florida, New Mexico, and Texas, where at least one-fifth of the population in this age group were uninsured; Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Nevada, and Wyoming, where 16.5% to 18.2% were uninsured; Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, where approximately 15% were uninsured; and North Carolina and South Carolina where approximately 14% were uninsured.

The age 50 through 64 year group, which is more prone to chronic health conditions (64% were reported to have at least one chronic condition in 2007), is most vulnerable to unemployment and to lack of employment-related health insurance in the current economic climate. The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey found that of the adults ages 50 to 64 who purchased or tried to buy a health plan on the individual insurance market, 45% and 61%, respectively, found it difficult or impossible to find a plan that met their needs or that they could afford, and 39% were declined, charged a higher premium, or had a preexisting condition exclusion. Nearly 70% of older adults never bought a plan, the Commonwealth Fund reported. These uninsured older adults will avoid or delay getting needed health care (75% reported this in the Commonwealth Fund survey) and preventive screenings (46%).

For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the full text of the law and additional information on health reform and other recent developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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