March 9, 2009

AARP: Those 50-64 hit hard by health costs

U.S. adults ages 50-64 are particularly vulnerable to high healthcare spending and are usually ineligible for Medicare, officials of AARP say.

AARP released a report Monday saying problems experienced by 50- to 64-year-old seniors are not limited to those without insurance -- those who have coverage faced higher health costs than younger adults.

Seniors who buy private insurance as individuals are the hardest hit, with two-thirds spending at least 10 percent of their disposable income on healthcare costs -- often due to prescription drugs for diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and AIDS -- AARP officials say.

We are focused on making sure any final reform package provides Americans ages 50-64 with more options for affordable, quality coverage -- whether that comes in the form of a public plan, working through the private market, or a combination of both, Elaine Ryan, AARP vice president of government relations and advocacy, told CQ Healthbeat News.

We think a public plan option could be an effective solution, but there would have to be bipartisan support to make it viable.

AARP officials are calling on Congress to subsidize healthcare coverage for 50- to 64-year-olds as lawmakers construct a healthcare overhaul package.