Financially Strapped Baby Boomers Gain Protection from Affordable Health Care Act

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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A new report from the Commonwealth Fund shows the Affordable Health Care Act will benefit 18.3 million baby boomers, ages 50 to 64 who are uninsured, unemployed and financially strapped from cost of health care relative to income.

The analysis shows millions of Baby Boomers who are without health insurance and have the highest long-term rates of unemployment are the most likely to gain from health care overhaul.

In addition to helping uninsured baby boomers, the Affordable Health Care Act will help 9.7 million older adults who are underinsured relative to income from high out of pocket medical expenses.

Estimates show that 8.6 million people in the 50 to 64 baby boomer age group are uninsured. According to Commonwealth Fund estimates, the Affordable Health Care Act will provide Medicaid coverage for families of four with income less than $29,000 annually and for families of four with income up to $88,000, insurance coverage will improve. Higher income families will gain new protection from inability of insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing illness, high rates based on age and coverage limits.

The ban on lifetime limits alone will benefit 102 million people who face financial ruin from exceeding insurance plan limits.

Beginning in 2014, baby boomers will no longer face higher premiums as they age and insurers will be required to provide services to all those who apply. People in the 50 to 64 age group who have been uninsured for six months now have the option of joining new insurance plans that cover individuals with pre-existing illness.

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:This report paints a picture of a baby boomer generation whose health and financial security are in jeopardy because of rising health care costs and declining health insurance coverage," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis.

The good news is that the Affordable Care Act is already making a difference for them, as lifetime and annual limits are phased out and pre-existing condition insurance plans get up and running. Things will only continue to improve as states and the federal government move toward fully implementing the law and we enter a new era in American health care, in which everyone has access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance."

The report also found particular benefit for 20.1 to 22.5 percent of uninsured in Florida, New Mexico, and Texas in the baby boomer age group during 2008 and 2009. In Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Nevada, and Wyoming 16.5 percent to 18.2 percent in the 50 to 64 age group were uninsured in the past two years.

Up until 2014, early retirees will experience the benefit of being able to purchase health insurance through Retiree Health Benefits Reinsurance Program for Employers that has already enrolled 3600 employers.

Another lesser-known benefit of the Affordable Health Care Act includes The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program that allows employers, workers and self-employed individuals the option of taking part in a national long-term care insurance program geared toward making long- term care insurance more affordable, for which current options are severely limited.

The report shows baby boomers, of which there are currently 8.6 million uninsured, and 9.7 underinsured, will have improved access to needed medical care including preventive services, reportedly neglected by 46 percent. Seventy percent of the age group also reported being financially unable to pay their medical bills.

The Commonwealth Fund report is one in a series examining how affordable health insurance will affect different age groups. The current analysis shows the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act for baby boomer who stand to gain stronger financial protection, disease prevention services and needed medical care as they age.

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Comments

The Commonweatlth fund forgot to mention the single most important benefit that was the tipping point for the necessity for healthcare reform, and that is reduced health insurance costs or their trends. What you say? No such thing is happening and all suggest the price tag in deficit and taxes and insurance premiums increases is coming? The benefits are nothing more than up front (many good) insurance reforms pandering to the plebs (us)-all come with increases in healthcare costs. Access on paper is improved but physicians may not be there to serve them. True reform relies heavily on restructuring to more efficient models, reducing unit prices, reducing unnecessary services, and aligning stakeholders to common goals for the good of all. PPACA did this?----NOT. This is insurance reform "lite" and it will cost us all beyond imagination. Disruptive innovation is required to reduce cost significantly and thus improve affordability/access for all.