If you are between 55 and 64, the law could be the only thing that saves you from becoming uninsured. Unless you have access to an employer plan, coverage can be very difficult to come by today. That's a serious problem for people who are laid off, self-employed, or have taken early retirement. Individual coverage can be exorbitantly expensive, and some insurance companies will refuse to cover you at all. Under health reform, you will be able to shop for a policy on an insurance exchange where you must be offered coverage regardless of your age or health status. The cost will still be higher than for younger people (by up to three times), but that is much less than the price differential that prevails in the market today.
Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. is a professor of law at the Earle Mack School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at Drexel University. He also writes for The Field Clinic blog.