Clint Jones

Amid the many strategies President-elect Joe Biden has suggested for expanding insurance coverage is a plan to lower the Medicare enrollment age to 60 from 65. The move would add up to 23 million people to Medicare, according to consulting firm Avalere Health.

And although the concept of lowering Medicare eligibility at age 60 is not new, 77% of respondents in a survey released this week by GoHealth were unfamiliar with proposals to lower the eligibility age. Still, when asked for their perspective on lowering the Medicare eligibility age, the majority of non-Medicare respondents and Medicare beneficiaries said they support it.

The firm surveyed more than 3,000 Americans aged 55 or more years and found that of those who were aware of proposals to lower the eligibility age, 64% of non-Medicare respondents and 49% of Medicare beneficiaries were in favor. The study also found that 43% of respondents who were employed said that lowering the age would allow them to retire earlier.

Against this backdrop, the poll also found that many older workers are struggling right now. Almost a fourth (23%) of unemployed Americans aged 55 and older lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and with that, they likely lost their health insurance as well. In fact, 17% indicated that they were uninsured. Beyond that, more than half of those employed (57%) and unemployed (62%) said they worry about their ability to afford health insurance until they reach the Medicare eligibility age of 65. 

“Generally, working Americans and seniors 65 and over have affordable health insurance options, either in the form of their employer’s plan or Medicare, respectively,” Clint Jones, GoHealth co-founder and CEO told McKnight’s Business Daily. “However, there’s a gap for middle-aged people who are currently unemployed or choosing early retirement, and some lack reliability if their health insurance is through their spouse’s employer’s plan. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age would help fill the health insurance gaps for middle-aged Americans that need affordable, quality healthcare options.”