What You Need to Know
- The AARP study found a significant number of Americans aged 50-64 lost health insurance coverage in the first few months of the pandemic.
- Older-adult unemployment remained at 4.8% as of March 2021, a rate still nearly double pre-pandemic levels.
- Some Americans in this age group may be uninsured because they are not aware of the options they have, with either ACA plans or Medicaid.
A new study from AARP finds that working Americans ages 50-64 saw significant job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time, many faced the loss of health insurance coverage.
The study, commissioned by the AARP Public Policy Institute and based on analysis from Avalere Health, estimated changes in insurance coverage among adults ages 50 to 64 over the course of 2020 and projected potential changes through December 2022.
It found that a significant number of Americans aged 50-64 lost health insurance coverage in the first few months of the pandemic, and workers this group either remained uninsured or switched to non-group options such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces or Medicaid plans.
Sharp Rise in Unemployment
The pandemic effects on older workers were slightly less dramatic than on younger workers, but there was still a significant rise in unemployment among this group, the study found.
“The unemployment rate among adults ages 50 to 64 jumped significantly in the initial phase of the pandemic, from 2.5% in February 2020 to a high of 12.5 percent in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” the study said. “During that two-month period, 4.2 million older adults lost their jobs.”
The report added that the impact might be greater than what the statistics show — because many older workers may have simply decided to retire during the pandemic, at an earlier age than they would have otherwise. These individuals would not show up in unemployment statistics.
The analysis said that the effect of the pandemic is continuing to be felt among workers in this age group.
“The unemployment rate among adults ages 50 to 64 has been gradually improving after its peak in April 2020. However, older-adult unemployment remained at 4.8% as of March 2021, a rate still nearly double pre-pandemic levels,” the report said. “The economic impact of the pandemic will likely be felt for some time, with Avalere estimating the unemployment rate among adults ages 50 to 64 could be as high as 4.9 percent by the end of 2022.”