Age Rating To Continue Under Health Care Bills
The Los Angeles Times reports that the health care proposals being considered by Congress would prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums based on preexisting conditions, "[b]ut the far reaching clampdown on insurers leaves one highly controversial element untouched: the issue of charging higher premiums to older policyholders than to younger, presumably healthier consumers who are less likely to file costly claims. Under the provisions of the bill passed by the House on Saturday, as well as in the probable Senate version, insurers will be able to charge middle-aged consumers at least twice as much as they do younger customers. And depending on the ultimate language of the Senate bill, insurers could be allowed to demand four times as much."
Older Americans spend more on health care than younger Americans, but there is a question of how those costs should be distributed. "Advocates for older Americans argue that age rating amounts to discrimination ... The insurance industry says age rating is necessary to make coverage affordable for younger people, whose participation in the system is crucial to keeping the overall costs of insurance down for everyone" (Oliphant, 11/9).
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.