Loss of Employer-Based Insurance Detrimental to Retirees' Health

July 29th 2016
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor

The loss of employer-provided insurance during the transition to retirement can have a negative impact on older patients’ physical and mental health as they enter their golden years.

The loss of employer-provided insurance during the transition to retirement can have a negative impact on older patients’ physical and mental health as they enter their golden years.

A recent investigation examined data from the 1996-2010 Health and Retirement Study collected from participants 50 to 64 years who either worked full time or had transitioned to full retirement.

After analyzing self-reported measures such as depression symptoms and difficulty performing daily activities like getting dressed, going shopping, and taking medications, the researchers determined that patients who maintained their employer-based insurance tended to have better physical and mental health than those who did not. The observed increases in symptoms of depression and limitations in daily activities sometimes occurred shortly after the termination of benefits.

“It seems like changes in insurance or being without insurance have more immediate mental health consequences than they do physical health consequences,” said study author Ben Lennox Kail, PhD, in a press release. “Maybe losing insurance itself is a small trauma that triggers depressive symptoms.”

Notably, 75% of participants who had lost their employment-based insurance never obtained another form of private insurance. Even among patients who acquired private non-group insurance, the loss of employer benefits was still linked to negative health consequences.

“If people are getting insurance from places other than their employer, these kinds of insurance tend to be less good,” Dr. Kail said. “And if people are getting lower-quality insurances, older adults are going to be sicker upon retirement.”

The study authors noted that future research is needed to better understand distinctions between different forms of insurance and coverage, as well as the different health outcomes associated with these factors.

The study was published in theJournals of Gerontology, Series B: Social Sciences.

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