A new study shows that adults nearing retirement age are anxious about their ability to find affordable healthcare coverage. Specifically, these people aged 50-64 are concerned that they may lose access to healthcare if they cannot pay for insurance after retirement.
The University of Michigan Health’s National Poll on Healthy Aging showed that nearly a third of adults in this age group were concerned that they might lose healthcare coverage in the next year. Nearly half confessed that they didn’t think they would be able to maintain coverage after they retired.
The study also showed that seniors were avoiding seeking treatment for routine health concerns because of costs. A small but significant percentage (11%) also decided not to fill a prescription in the last year because it was too expensive.
Obviously, this is a major problem–both for the patients unable or unwilling to seek care, and for the healthcare system as a whole. When patients put off preventative care or ignore minor issues, it allows even worse problems to compound. Early detection and proactive healthcare can make a major difference in the patient’s quality of life.
If seniors won’t even go to the doctor because it costs too much, we’re going to see an increase in emergency room visits when, for example, the lingering cough that was “no big deal” turns into pneumonia.
People in their 50s and 60s may also continue to stay in the workforce for longer because they need employer-provided insurance, creating a stagnant job market with fewer opportunities for younger people. Over ten percent of the people surveyed said they had delayed their plans to retire because of insurance.
Unfortunately, the researchers concluded that healthcare avoidance and worries over affordable Medicare insurance will only continue to get worse. Rising costs of healthcare and insurance premiums are a concern for everyone, but for retirees on a fixed income, it could be a matter of life and death.
With the affordable care act and access to Medicare insurance so important to this group of Americans, it’s sure to be a major topic of discussion leading up to the 2020 election. Many voters would prefer a “Medicare for all” system, while others would prefer politicians to more aggressively curb the drug industry’s rising prices.