Thursday, January 10, 2013

Help Soon for Boomers Without Health Insurance

Several Baby Boomer women I know are in the uncomfortable position of having lost their health insurance.  This happened because they were paying for their insurance through their husband's employer.  When the husband retired, sometimes sooner than they had planned because of an illness or job loss, the husband was able to go on Medicare if he was at least 65 years old.  Unfortunately, if the wife was under 65, they were not eligible for Medicare.  Some of these women have been able to obtain expensive personal policies, often through COBRA.  However, others are just hoping and praying they stay healthy until they are old enough to go on Medicare, too, especially if the high cost of COBRA or a pre-existing medical condition makes the cost of health insurance prohibitive.  I'm sure this same situation has happened to men who are dependent on their wife's employer for health insurance, too. 

New Health Insurance Exchanges

Fortunately, this should no longer be a problem after the end of this year. Beginning in 2014, insurance companies can no longer refuse to insure adults who have pre-existing conditions.  Starting this October, most states will have online insurance exchanges that will enable people of any age to begin shopping for affordable insurance policies, whether they have a pre-existing condition or not. The AARP Bulletin for January - February, 2013 recently reported on the status of the new health insurance exchanges, which were mandated by the Affordable Healthcare Act.

According to AARP, most states have already begun to decide how they will handle these exchanges.  Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have announced that they will operate their own exchanges; five states will partner with the federal government; eighteen states have said they will accept the default exchange that will be operated by the federal government; the remaining states have not made a decision.

How the Health Insurance Exchanges will Work

These exchanges will operate online.  They will be open to small businesses and individuals who cannot get affordable insurance through their employer.  The exchanges will also help people identify if they are eligible for any financial assistance through tax credit premium subsidies.  This will make it possible for even low income people to afford health insurance.

The goal of a health insurance exchange is to help anyone who does not have insurance, or who loses their insurance for any reason, to be able to replace their policy quickly, efficiently and at a reasonable price, even if they have a pre-existing condition such as a history of cancer, kidney disease or diabetes.  If the exchanges work as planned, they will give couples on the verge of retirement one less reason for worry.

There is another reason why we may experience some financial relief as a result of these exchanges.  Many Baby Boomers I know have been helping their adult children pay for health insurance.  Others are assisting their adult children by helping to pay off large medical bills their children incurred because they were uninsured.  The new insurance exchanges should bring us all some peace of mind.

If you are a Baby Boomer concerned about health issues, you may also be interested in reading these articles:

Sexually Transmitted Diseases After Age 50
Doctor Housecalls Provide Home Medical Care
How to Avoid Phony Online Pharmacies
Planning for Long Term Medical Care

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of senior couple courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. I had heard about this but didn't know how it was going to work. Thanks for explaining it so completely.


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