19 percent of workers aged50–64 are postponing job changes or retirement just so they cankeep their current employer's coverage. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Workers who haven't yet retired are worried about affordinghealth insurance — both now and when they do retire.

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So say new findings from the National Poll onHealthy Aging, which reveal that 45 percent of those in their50s and early 60s have little or no confidence about their abilityto pay for health coverage once they retire.

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In addition, 27 percent said they're not sure they can affordtheir coverage over the next year — with 10 percent saying they'dthought about going without health insurance for 2019 (but just 5percent actually decided to risk it at the time of the poll).

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And then there are the 19 percent of workers aged 50–64 who arepostponing job changes or retirement just so they can keep theircurrent employer's coverage.

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Among those who changed their coverage for 2019, 15 percent saidthey were holding off on medical procedures until their newcoverage kicked in—and 8 percent of those in their early 60s arestalling on medical procedures until they're old enough to qualifyfor Medicare.

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That age group is also staying on top of the headlines when itcomes to health issues. Half of adults age 50–64 are keeping aclose eye on any potential changes to the Affordable Care Act,Medicare or Medicaid. And while the poll took place prior to theDecember court ruling on ACA constitutionality, 68 percent ofrespondents were already worried about how their health insurancemight change due to potential federal policy changes.

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Nearly two-thirds of participants said they're insured eitherthrough their own job or someone else's, while about 20 percent hadMedicaid, Medicare or other government-provided insurance; eightpercent said they buy their own coverage.

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“The Affordable Care Act was intended to cut down on 'job lock',where a person feels trapped in their job by their need to preservetheir health insurance,” Preeti Malani, M.D., director of the polland a professor of internal medicine at the University of MichiganMedical School, is quoted saying in the report.

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Malani added, “We were surprised by the low percentage of theseadults who bought their own coverage through the ACA exchanges, andthe relatively high percentage who felt they had to keep a job ordelay retirement in order to keep a plan. Innovative policysolutions are needed to help adults in this age group navigatetheir insurance options.”

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They might also want to explain a few other things, too. About afifth of those polled said they had little or no confidence thatthey could understand insurance terms, and about a quarter saidthey didn't think they knew how to find out what their insuranceplan would cover before they received a health care service, orwhat their out-of-pocket costs would be.

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READ MORE:

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2 approaches to incorporating health care inretirement planning

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Vanguard, Mercer, roll out new retiree health carecost model

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Health care costs crimping retirementconfidence

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.