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Capping Health Care Premiums Based on Age

Editor’s note: If Congress succeeds in capping health care premium differentials between young and old, will it do the same for Medicare participants. If so, the next question you should ask, will the benefits among the two groups be identical?

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Old people get sick more than young people, and in most states that adds up to them paying a lot more for their health insurance premiums.

President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want to restrict that practice as part of a top-to-bottom reshaping of the nation’s health care system, a change that will help them politically with aging Americans skeptical about the government’s plans. Urging them to do it is AARP, the powerful senior citizens’ lobby, which says making older people pay more amounts to age discrimination.

On the opposite side is the health insurance industry, which says it’s an unavoidable business decision because premiums are based on expected expenses and older people have higher health care costs.

A rating limit of 2 to 1, meaning that a 60-year-old could only be charged twice as much as a 20-year-old based on age. That’s the level embraced by AARP, but insurance companies say it could drive premium prices up for younger workers by as much as 59 percent. They say young people would be bearing larger costs because there would be less flexibility to charge older people more money.

An estimated 40 percent of the uninsured are between the ages of 18 to 34.

“We’re very concerned that the impact is to raise rates so much for young people as to make it unaffordable,” said Alissa Fox, a top lobbyist for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-ap-us-health-overhaul-age,0,5051291.story

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September 29, 2009 - Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | , ,

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