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Paying More for Less: Older Adults in the Individual Insurance Market


The Commonwealth Fund Survey of Older Adults reveals that adults ages 50 to 64 who rely on the individual insurance market for health coverage pay much higher premiums than their counterparts with employer coverage. The survey found that in 2004, more than half (54%) of older adults with individual coverage spent $3,600 or more annually on premiums. A quarter (26%) spent $6,000 or more a year. In contrast, only 17 percent of older adults with employer coverage and 6 percent of those covered by Medicare spent $3,600 or more on premiums. Moreover, individual coverage often provides poor access to care and entails high out-of-pocket expenses for older adults, making it a particularly unaffordable option for people who are older, have low incomes, or who have chronic health problems.

Publication Details

Publication Date: June 1, 2005

Paying More for Less: Older Adults in the Individual Insurance Market, Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., Cathy Schoen, M.S., Michelle M. Doty, Ph.D., Alyssa L. Holmgren, and Sabrina K. How, The Commonwealth Fund, June 2005


Michelle M. Doty
Vice President, Survey Research and Evaluation, The Commonwealth Fund
Sara Collins
Vice President, Health Care Coverage and Access, The Commonwealth Fund
Senior Scholar in Residence, New York Academy of Medicine