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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ages 55-64 and Uninsured...Where Can We Go for Help?

The number of people without health insurance in the United States has increased steadily over the last several years, from 43 million in 2007 to 49 million in 2010. Individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 make up 11% of this uninsured population. This age group is particularly vulnerable when uninsured: people age 55-64 are more likely than younger people to be in fair or poor health, and people age 55-64 who are uninsured are twice as likely to be in fair or poor health than their counterparts with health insurance coverage.

Regardless of health status, individuals in this group do not qualify for coverage through Medicare or Medicaid unless they have a serious disability (i.e., one that meets Social Security’s definition of disability for purposes of awarding Social Security Disability Insurance). Therefore, most people age 55-64 who do not have employer coverage are forced to seek coverage in the individual insurance market, where they may currently be denied a plan or charged exorbitantly high premiums for having pre-existing conditions.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act makes a big difference for this population. Right now, the ACA is providing incentives to small business owners to keep providing employer coverage for people between the ages of 55 and 64. In 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny people coverage due to a pre-existing condition, and premiums and cost-sharing subsidies from the government will help to ensure that people can afford to pay for coverage.

But what can people in this age group do until 2014? With support from the Chicago Community Trust, AgeOptions has put together a toolkit, “No Insurance? Health Care Options for Individuals Age 55-64 Without Insurance”:

This toolkit contains information about health care resources for individuals without insurance coverage, including:
  • “Safety net” organizations and programs that provide access to health care
  • Affordable Care Act provisions that will assist these individuals in obtaining coverage
  • Where to go for information and assistance in finding health care options
AgeOptions hopes that this toolkit will be a valuable resource for people who are 55-64 and who are uninsured or underinsured. For more information and materials created by the Make Medicare Work Coalition (MMW), visit the AgeOptions website here: http://www.ageoptions.org/whatwedo/MMW.cfm

Erin Weir
Manager of Health Care Access


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