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Health insurance worries

A large number of adults approaching Medicare are worried about their ability to afford health insurance. [Adobestock photo]

A large percentage of middle-aged adults approaching Medicare eligibility are concerned about the rapid rise of health insurance costs, and many more worry about the cost and availability of healthcare when they retire or if federal health policies change, according to a recently published survey.

More than a quarter of people in their 50s and early 60s who participated in the National Poll on Healthy Aging said they do not feel confident in their ability to afford health insurance in the next year. That percentage went up to nearly half when they were asked to look ahead to retirement, and an even higher two-thirds expressed concern about how potential changes in health insurance policies at the national level would affect them in the future.

Nearly one in five survey respondents who are working said they have stayed in a job in the past year in order to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance, and 15% of them said they’ve delayed retirement – or thought about it – because of the need to hold on to their health insurance coverage.

These cost concerns are already causing people in this age group to put off their own healthcare, the survey also found. More than 18% of those responding said they had avoided seeking care, or had not filled a prescription, because of cost in the past year. Those who rated themselves in “fair” or “poor” health were four times more likely to have avoided care. Those with an individually purchased insurance plan, such as plans available on the federal Marketplace, were three times more likely to have avoided seeking care or filling a prescription.

“It is clear from our poll that health care remains a top issue for middle-aged adults and that many of them find the recent uncertainty surrounding federal healthcare policies troubling,” said senior author Aaron Scherer, Ph.D. “Policymakers should work to ensure the stability and affordability of health insurance for vulnerable adults on the verge of retirement.”

The national poll of 1,024 adults focused specifically on people approaching the age of 65, when most Americans qualify for Medicare health insurance. 

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