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February 17, 2014 AT 9:54 AM
For many older Americans who lost jobs during the recession, the quest for health care has been one obstacle after another. These luckless people, most in their 50s and 60s, have emerged this month as early winners under the nation's new health insurance system. Along with their peers who are self-employed or whose jobs do not offer insurance, they have been signing up for coverage in large numbers, submitting new-patient forms at doctor's offices and filling prescriptions at pharmacies. According to the federal government's latest figures, Americans ages 55 to 64 make up 31 percent of new enrollees in the new health insurance marketplaces, the largest segment by age group. They represent a glimmer of success for President Barack Obama's beleaguered law.