AARP: Health Plan Would Raise Costs for Older Americans
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Critics of the proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act are warning that the cost of the plan would disproportionately fall on older Americans.
Estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office say the American Health Care Act would increase costs for many while causing 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance. Herb Sanderson, state director for AARP Arkansas, said the proposal would send health-insurance costs soaring for people age 50 and older.
"The amount that people are going to face to get insurance, literally some of them will be priced out, and at the same time this is giving tax breaks to insurance companies, drug companies and higher-income people," he said. "We just think it's bad medicine."
Supporters of the Republican plan have said it will make health care more affordable and reduce the deficit. However, Sanderson said the plan would change Medicare to a "voucher" system, where participants get a fixed amount to buy insurance with the rest paid out-of-pocket. He said 565,000 Arkansans get their health coverage from Medicare.
AARP is calling one facet of the plan an "age tax." Sanderson said it would allow insurance companies to charge significantly higher premiums for older Americans, while cutting the tax subsidies that help them pay for their coverage.
"The current law allows older people to be charged three times that of a younger person," he said. "This bill would take it up to five times, plus the tax-break portion of this lowers the amount that people 50 to 64 are currently receiving."
If the plan is approved, he said, older Arkansans can expect to see some eye-popping health insurance premiums.
"If you're 50, you are going to pay $2,726 more, and if you're 64 - and this is not a misstatement - you're going to pay $8,394 more," he said. "So, what you have to look forward to is a big jump in your health-care cost."
An AARP analysis of the plan is online at blog.aarp.org.