09 November 2009

Boomers Among the Health Insurance Statistics

As analysts predict the percentage of Americans who will access a public option for health insurance, I continue to wonder if the analysts know the baby boomer mindset about employment in the years approaching retirement. Most women my age (that I know) readily acknowledge that they are working only "for the bennies." If they were able to access health insurance independently (and affordably), they would walk off the job and look for contract work, instead. More of my colleagues than you might guess are in their employers' health plans because of their own pre-existing conditions or their spouses'. Thus, the threat of leaving employment has to do with both cost and acceptance of those pre-existing conditions. Add one more feature: a lot of us are female primary wage earners, our boomer husbands already having been laid off or "retired" early due to the economic downturn.

The economic downturn is a psychological factor, as well, and one could argue that boomers will cling to employment as long as possible. But even on that score, I question the conventional wisdom. The boomers I know say they will cheerfully work part-time or as self-employed independent contractors under this assumption: they are going to have to work forever, anyway, so they want to do it as flexibly as possible in the early years when they still feel like traveling.

These scenarios are not mentioned in the analyses of the health care legislation emerging from Congress. Indeed, there's no good statistical reason that my thinking about "everyone I know" should be reflected in the national dialogue. After all, we are years away from the real impact of whatever legislation is decided. Whatever public option emerges won't do it until 2013 or thereabouts. And so what's the immediate impact? A whole lot of boomers (like me) factoring in the number of years we need to pay for expensive coverage before we can benefit from a more affordable version. So, as house mortgages are paid off, the dollars will shift to health insurance premiums and the new owners of those premiums will...have to work forever, anyway.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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