Obamacare a Saving Grace for Many Baby Boomers

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Aging Americans battered by the recession are flocking to the online marketplaces to buy health insurance.

The seemingly never-ending pursuit of health insurance is finally over for a number of aging Americans who were left jobless during the recession.

As The Associated Press reports, the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, has made a big impact on those “unwanted by employers, rejected by insurers, struggling to cover rising medical costs and praying to reach Medicare age before a health crisis.”

These people in their 50s and early 60s have been signing up in droves to buy health insurance through the state and federal online marketplaces, where they’ll find several tiers of plans and learn if they’re eligible for a federal tax credit to help them afford the premiums. Eligibility for the credit is based on income, and many likely will qualify, but you have to buy insurance through a marketplace to get it.

In fact, people ages 55 to 64 make up 31 percent of new Obamacare enrollees. The AP reports that after signing up for insurance, many people make doctors’ appointments and fill prescriptions – something many had avoided because they were uninsured.

“I just cried I was so relieved,” said Maureen Grey, a 58-year-old Chicagoan who finally saw a doctor this month after a fall in September left her in constant pain. Laid off twice from full-time jobs in the past five years, she saw her income drop from $60,000 to $17,800 a year. Now doing temp work, she was uninsured for 18 months before she chose a marketplace plan for $68 a month.

Open enrollment on the marketplaces continues through March 31.

According to the Star Tribune, Vice President Joe Biden told customers at a Minneapolis coffee shop Wednesday that health insurance enrollment will likely miss its target. “We may not get to 7 million, we may get to 5 or 6 [million], but that’s a hell of a start,” Biden said.

Stacy Johnson

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