Middle-Aged Americans Threatened by Increasing Health Cost Burden

Faculty; Public Health; Research

Low-income, late middle-aged Americans with private insurance or unstable coverage were more likely to have higher out-of-pocket expenditures and financial burdens than those with public insurance, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

The findings have implications for people who may face coverage gaps as they enter old age, the authors say.

Researchers analyzed data from adults aged 51-64 in the 2001-2012 Health and Retirement Study conducted by the University of Michigan, in combination with RAND Center for the Study of Aging data.

They found that unstable insurance coverage had an effect on long-term health spending. ‪“Our analyses confirm that low‐income late middle‐aged adults’ health care spending will continue to increase as they age, but the rate of change will vary depending on insurance types and poverty level,” wrote co-author Dr. Timothy McBride, professor at the Brown School.

“As policy makers debate the future of the Affordable Care Act and states consider whether to expand Medicaid, future research should focus understanding the benefits associated with Medicaid expansion for low‐income adults,” said Dr. Sojung Park, assistant professor at the Brown School and also a co-author.‬

The study was published May 16 in Health Services Research.

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