By: Katherine Swartz and Betsey Stevenson

Published: January, 2001

Health and Income Security for an Aging Workforce Brief No. 2 ~ January 2001

A decade remains before the oldest members of the baby boom generation begin
to be eligible for
Medicare. A number of these baby boomers will retire between the ages of 55
to 64, prior to qualifying for Medicare. Some will retire by choice; others
will lose their job involuntarily; many will accept part-time or contract
employment. As their employment situation is altered, many risk losing their
employer-sponsored health insurance. The soon-to-be large number of baby
boomers in the 55-64 age group prompts a look at who is at risk for being
uninsured, the types of health insurance coverage they have, and the
characteristics of those with each type of health insurance.

For people between the ages of 55 to 64, labor market participation, income
level, health status,
gender, marital status, educational attainment, and race are all associated
with having health insurance. Though these characteristics are related to
each other, income, educational attainment, and health status have the
largest effects on having health insurance, as well as the type of insurance
coverage a 55-64 year old has. Thus, the “more fortunate”— those who are
relatively healthy, with higher educational attainment and higher incomes —
are more likely to have employer-sponsored or individually purchased
insurance; the “less fortunate”— those who are less healthy, less educated
and lower income — are more likely to have public insurance or be uninsured.

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