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We are living longer than ever, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. In fact, people who were born in 2009 should live to be 78.5 years, which is a slight increase from a year earlier, when life expectancy was around 78.1 years. The most current figures are even more promising: people who are born this year can expect to make it to about 78.7 years. These increases pertain to both men and women, as well as different races.
Reasons for this increase
As Consumer Healthday explains, one reason we are living so much longer is we are getting better care for serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease and stroke. Thanks to advances in medical science, these diseases, which have historically been responsible for a large number of deaths, are now being addressed earlier and in a better way, which has led to an increase in life expectancy.
Unfortunately, older is not always better
Although heart and stroke-related health conditions might have seen improvements in their mortality-related figures, The Washington Post reminds us that people who are living longer are not necessarily living better. Chronic health issues that are often caused by lifestyle choices like overeating and smoking are leading to a variety of health-related problems, including type 2 diabetes, different forms of cancer, COPD, and more. In other words, while our collective life spans are on the rise, our “health span” is not necessarily going up along with it.
How living longer impacts health insurance
Seniors who are living longer but not necessarily healthier lives are having an effect on insurance rates. As America’s Health Insurance Plans notes, older baby boomers usually use more health care services that typically also cost more than those utilized by younger patients. Because of this disparity, health care services for seniors rise in response.
Fortunately, there are checks and balances that help ensure aging seniors are not paying more than their share for health insurance. One way that states can do this is to use what are called “age rating bands” that in turn help to spread the costs of health insurance over a wide range of ages. For example, in a state that currently has a 3:1 age band, this important ratio prevents the amount a senior pays for insurance from being more than three times what a younger person pays for his or her premium.
Starting on January 1 of this year, the law now forbids this age rating band to go higher than the 3:1 ratio. While this has helped to keep insurance premiums down for seniors, it has resulted in an increase in costs for younger people who aren’t as likely to have as many health issues. Still, considering that in some states the age band was once 5:1, the new law is helping to keep health insurance more affordable for those who typically use it the most.
Of course, paying three times as much as their grandkids doesn’t make health insurance inherently affordable; seniors can and should feel free to shop around to see how they can get the best rates possible. One great way to do this is by visiting a site like QuoteWizard, which will allow you to compare quotes on a variety of insurances from several different companies.
Age and car insurance rates
As most baby boomers know quite well, advancing age leads to higher car insurance rates. As the DMV notes, this system is based on the unfortunate fact that seniors are involved in more automobile accidents than drivers who are in their 30s and 40s. Rates usually start to go up for seniors once they reach the age of 70, and they are typically due to a greater chance of impaired vision, arthritis, and cognitive issues that may impact driving ability.