Health Reform Bills Maintain Some Type of Insurance ‘Age Rating’
Insurance company "age rating" is likely to continue under proposed health care legislation.
"The older you are, the more you usually pay for health coverage, and that's a difference likely to persist under the sweeping health care legislation that Congress is now considering," McClatchy reports. "The House of Representatives would permit insurers to charge older Americans twice what younger people pay. The bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee would allow premiums four times as high."
The major House and Senate measures, however, "would end what many consider another long-standing, discriminatory practice: basing rates on gender, which is now allowed in most states." Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., says "[a]llowing insurers to charge older Americans vastly higher premiums simply because of their age is discrimination, pure and simple." Some wonder why gender rating is being eliminated while age rating is not. "Senate staffers explained one reason for the difference this way: Age-based premiums can be justified by consumers' experience, while gender-based differentials relying somewhat on potential pregnancy has the look of being blatantly discriminatory" (Lightman, 10/20).
NPR reports that "small companies' rates are dictated by the demographics of their work force - and when the work force is small, it can spell complications, higher prices or both." A reporter from NPR member-station KQED takes a look at her own unusually high premiums and determines that the rates are largely caused by the older age of employees at the station (Varney, 10/21).
Related KHN story: Health Insurance: How Much More Should Older People Pay? (Appleby, 8/31)This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.