Since the defeat of major health reform in 1994, there have been successful incremental expansions of health coverage to low-income children, and more recently, even to their parents in some states. Another group often included in reform proposals is the near elderly, those between ages 55 and 64. On the whole, the near elderly actually have higher rates of health insurance coverage than other age groups, but adults who are approaching retirement and Medicare coverage at age 65 are a diverse group. This paper examines the changes in income, health status, and insurance coverage that occur with the aging of the population, focusing primarily on the nearly 26 million near elderly--those between ages 55 and 64--and begins to address the issue of whether the case can be made that the near elderly uninsured are another group that warrants taxpayer support.
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