Los Angeles Times Looks at Health Insurance Coverage of the ‘Near-Elderly’
The Los Angeles Times today reports on the problems that many Americans ages 55 to 64 -- the "near elderly" -- face if they lose their employer-sponsored health insurance "just as the health problems that come with growing older begin to surface." Many near-elderly Americans lose coverage when they leave their employers to become self-employed or retire early, or due to corporate layoffs. The Times reports that less than 30% of employers offer health coverage to employees who retire before age 65. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 3.2 million near-elderly Americans lacked health insurance in 2000. The near elderly do not qualify for Medicare, and the Times reports that some have developed health problems that "make it difficult -- and expensive" -- to purchase individual health insurance policies. Although some people in this age group may qualify to participate in COBRA -- the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows unemployed workers to retain their employer-sponsored health coverage by paying 102% of the premiums -- many cannot afford health insurance through the program. Most states allow insurance companies to deny coverage for the "very health conditions for which people require medical care," the Times reports (Lieberman, Los Angeles Times, 4/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.