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AARP Wisconsin: "Age Tax" For Health Insurance Unfair

AARP opposes a bill that would allow insurance companies to charge older workers much higher premiums. (monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto)
AARP opposes a bill that would allow insurance companies to charge older workers much higher premiums. (monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto)
March 13, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – Under the new Republican healthcare plan, insurance companies would be allowed to charge older workers much more than younger workers, a move that AARP Wisconsin calls an "age tax."

This provision in the GOP proposal comes from legislation, House Resolution 708, that AARP charges would line the pockets of insurance companies.

Lisa Lamkins, advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin, said people age 50 and older could pay as much as five times more than younger people pay for the same coverage.

"They already can't afford the health insurance as it exists," Lamkins said. "If we were to see these new healthcare bills charging older consumers more, what we're going to see is people unable to afford that health insurance, and more and more older people going without health insurance."

Lamkins said if this kind of "age tax" becomes law, taxpayers of all ages would have to spend an additional $6.7 billion in assistance for older Americans who need extra help paying their health-insurance premiums.

Supporters of allowing insurance companies to charge older people rates much higher than younger people have said it will open up the market for young people and motivate them to buy health insurance. But according to Lamkins, that approach won't help young people that much, while it really hurts older people.

"The estimates for an annual premium for a 24-year-old means their premium will go from about $2,800 a year to $2,100 a year," she explained. "Unfortunately, premiums for a 64-year-old will skyrocket. They will go from about $8,500 a year to $10,600 a year."

The current system allows insurance companies a three-to-one age rating. In other words, because older people tend to need more health services than younger people, insurance companies are allowed to charge them three times as much as younger customers.

Under the proposals being floated now, that limit would go away and insurance companies could charge older people much more for the same coverage.

"We really need to say to our members of Congress, 'Let's be reasonable about this. Let's make sure that insurance companies stick with the three-to-one age rating.'"

Lamkins believes elected officials should be standing up for older workers, not insurance companies.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI