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Health Insurance Providers Targeting Marketing Efforts At Older Adults

Armen Hareyan's picture

Healthinsurance companies increasingly are focusing marketing efforts for individualpolicies on the estimated seven million uninsured U.S. residents between theages of 50 and 64 -- a group they once had "a history of avoiding"because of costly claims for health conditions that frequently affect that agegroup, the AP/Boston Herald reports. According to some experts,financially secure adults who retire earlier than usual or require insuranceafter corporate cutbacks are helping drive this trend, which targets people inthe years preceding their eligibility for Medicare.

In addition, because of its size, the baby boom generation "represents abig chunk of potential," according to Steve DeRaleau, chief operatingofficer of HumanaOne, which introduced an individualpolicy last spring for early retirees.

The number of large companies and employers that offer health benefits to theirworkers and retirees is decreasing. People who have been laid off from theirjobs at larger companies that offered employee benefits are also less likely tofind comparable jobs again, according to John Wider, vice president of healthproducts and services for AARP Services.

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Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, noted that the target age groupcan be costly for insurers because older adults are more likely than youngerpeople to experience chronic health ailments or require treatment for heartdisease or cancer. Pollack said, "For those companies that may be willingto provide coverage to you, they'll charge you an arm and a leg because theywill adjust their premiums to reflect what the risk might be."

However, Jude Thompson, WellPoint's president of individual markets,said, "We don't have tougher underwriting or a different set of standardsfor 50- to 64-year-olds than anyone else" (AP/Boston Herald, 10/31).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.