If You’re 50+ Your Health Insurance May Get More Expensive

By Michelle Singletary  |  May 08, 2017  |  This article originally appeared in The Washington Post

President Trump promised an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Many seniors won’t fare well under the American Health Care Act, which passed the House last week.

I’m not trying to scare you, but the GOP’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, may mean the amount you need to save for retirement just got higher.

“Americans face two big problems as they get older: a shortage of retirement savings and the skyrocketing cost of health care,” wrote Ben Steverman for Bloomberg in “Washington is making it tougher to retire.”

There are some winners under AHCA. Healthy and wealthy individuals win. Young adults and upper middle-income folks without any preexisting conditions also benefit.

Here’s who will lose:

Seniors who rely on Medicaid. A change in how the program is funded, which will cap Medicaid outlays, could leave a lot of poor elderly folks without health care.

“A state like Florida, which has a large senior population, could see costs rise fast as its population ages with time,” reports Dylan Matthews for Vox. “But a per capita cap wouldn’t keep up with that. To get around that, the state might be motivated to kick off older seniors and focus enrollment on younger ones.”
For more details read: “These are all the people the Republican health care bill will hurt”

In most states, older Americans will pay more. “Insurance companies could charge a 64-year-old customer five times the price charged to an 18-year-old one, to cite the most extreme example,” Margot Sanger-Katz reports in the New York Times. “The changes in the subsidy formula would also require older middle-class Americans to pay a much larger share of their health insurance bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that far fewer older Americans would have insurance coverage under this bill than under the Affordable Care Act.”

Got a preexisting condition? You lose. Before there was Obamacare, insurance companies routinely refused coverage for people with preexisting conditions such diabetes, arthritis or heart disease. Or, if people could get coverage, they were charged high premiums, copays and deductibles.

Before there was Obamacare, insurance companies routinely refused coverage for people with preexisting conditions such diabetes, arthritis or heart disease. Or, if people could get coverage, they were charged high premiums, copays and deductibles.

“Companies argued it was the only way to prevent people from waiting to buy insurance until they were already sick,” wrote Maggie Fox for NBC News. “Some supporters of the AHCA say it’s about personal responsibility. After all, why should all the customers of a health insurance plan pay for people who wait until they are sick or injured to buy coverage? But medical groups from the American Medical Association to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) say health insurers often made up their own definitions of preexisting conditions. And they often denied coverage to people born with such conditions, or who developed them in childhood.”

“AARP is deeply disappointed in today’s vote by the House to pass this deeply flawed health bill,” AARP’s Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a release. “The bill will put an Age Tax on us as we age, harming millions of American families with health insurance, forcing many to lose coverage or pay thousands of dollars more for health care. In addition, the bill now puts at risk the 25 million older adults with preexisting conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, who would likely find health care unaffordable or unavailable to them.”

This still isn’t a done deal. The House measure now goes to the Senate. “There are many other problems with this bill from both a liberal and conservative perspective,” wrote Jake Novak for CNBC. “It simply does not fix the growing problems with Obamacare and actually makes them worse by increasing its fiscal liabilities.”

By the way, if you have health insurance and think all this reworking of Obamacare isn’t your problem, think again.

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