Healthcare reform helps those near retirement, the unemployed

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Individuals aged 50-64—especially people in that age group experiencing long-term unemployment—stand to benefit the most from the healthcare reform law, according to a new study.

The Commonwealth Fund study found that workers between the ages of 55 and 64 have been unemployed an average of 45 weeks, which is longer than any other age group. Because people in this group are more likely to have lost insurance coverage and suffer from more pre-existing conditions and loss of prior insurance coverage, the effect on their retirement savings is destabilizing.

The bulk of the new law will go into effect in 2014, but early provisions can provide “transitional” relief according to Commonwealth investigators. These provisions include the banning of lifetime limits on insurance benefits and the phasing in of a ban on annual limits.

Insurance policies that are in compliance with these new rules must also offer preventive services, such as mammograms and colorectal screenings without copayments. Individuals can also apply to state-run high-risk pools that cover people with pre-existing conditions. Federally funded pools, however, require beneficiaries to have been uninsured for six months, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.