A new report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute shows that more than 19,200 adults between the ages of 50 and 64 are without health insurance in Hawaii – or about 7.8 percent of that age group.
In 2010, more than 273,000 Hawaii adults were in their 50s and early 60s – approximately 20 percent of the state’s population. While Hawaii’s employer-mandated insurance provides coverage for most of this group, thousands of residents who lack health coverage at this age face the prospect of declining health, insufficient care, and erosion of their retirement security in the case of serious illness.
“Going without health insurance is particularly risky for people age 50 to 64 because they’re more susceptible to health issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, yet too young to qualify for Medicare,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. “For older adults without health insurance, the challenges to both financial and health security can be significant.”
The report indicates that older adults without access to employer coverage can face problems getting coverage in the private market, especially if they have a pre-existing condition. Many of those who cannot access or afford private coverage today may have much to gain from implementation of new reforms in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA is designed to provide access to coverage for those not covered through an employer. The law aims to improve market rules to assure that everyone has access to private health coverage, regardless of age or health status. The law also creates health benefit exchanges in Hawaii and other states that will provide centralized access to comprehensive coverage for individuals and small businesses.
Implementation of the law is in its early stage, and success depends on the commitment and collaboration of many stakeholders. But as the number of uninsured older adults in Hawaii attests, people age 50 to 64 have a strong stake in policy decisions that stand to improve their health and security.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. With nearly 150,000 members in Hawaii the Association champions access to affordable, quality health care for all generations, provides the tools needed to save for retirement, and serves as a reliable information source on issues critical to older Americans.