A new report from AARP shows there are more than 26,700 adults between the ages of 50 and 64 without health insurance in Hawaii. That’s 10.8 percent of the total number of people of that age group in the state.
The problem is likely to become more serious due to the aging of the baby boomers and our weakening economy. There are approximately 241,700 people between the ages of 50-64—just under 19 percent of the state’s total population (roughly one in five people).
“In Hawaii, there’s a tendency to assume that the health care needs of this group are covered by employer-mandated insurance,” said AARP Hawaii Associate State Director Bruce Bottorff. “But as our economy weakens and unemployment rises, older adults tend to remain out of work more than 20 percent longer than younger workers. That leaves them vulnerable, especially if they can’t afford to make costly COBRA payments.”
Going without health insurance is particularly risky for people age 50 to 64 because they are more likely to have a pre-existing condition, and may then be denied individual insurance in the private market. Without options for affordable health coverage, 50- to 64-year-olds are also more likely to forgo necessary medical care, keeping them out of work and increasing their health care costs when they reach Medicare eligibility.
AARP is pressing Congress to find a common-sense solution to the coverage gap for those 50-64 years old. The age group makes up about half of AARP’s 40 million members.