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Proposed Health Care Law Hammers People Over 50

While special interests get a payday

People 50+ Get Hammered, Special Interests Get a Payday

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

En español | How can a 64-year-old making $26,500 a year afford to have his health care premiums jump from $1,700 to $14,600 a year (a whopping 758 percent increase)? He can’t.

That’s the reason AARP is strongly opposed to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and why we’re doubling down on efforts to stop it in its tracks.

It’s an outrage that anyone in the U.S. Congress could expect people over age 50 to pay thousands more for health coverage. Even more outrageous? The fact that the very same bill gives big pharmaceutical firms and large insurance companies a massive $200 billion tax break.

Does anyone believe that’s what Americans voted for when they cast their ballots last November? I don’t think so.

Here at AARP, we’ve been carefully reading through the 123 pages of the AHCA and closely examining Monday’s report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the independent, nonpartisan agency that provides unbiased information about the budgetary impact of proposed legislation. 

It’s even worse than we expected. Here’s why:

  • The AHCA would impose an unfair and unacceptable “age tax.”  It would allow insurance companies to charge people between the ages of 50 and 64 (those too young for Medicare) five times what they can charge younger consumers. (Insurers are currently allowed to charge older consumers three times as much.)
  • The legislation would also change the way health care tax credits are calculated, a double whammy for older Americans. Under current law, the tax credits are determined by a person’s ability to pay as well as by local health care costs. But under the new plan, those factors are no longer considered, and older consumers of low and moderate means would get smaller tax credits than before. All told, older Americans could pay up to $8,400 more per year for health insurance.
  • The CBO analysis found that premiums would rise 20 percent to 25 percent for a 64-year-old. That means premiums for a 64-year-old earning $26,500 would increase by $12,900 in 2026, from $1,700 to $14,600. That puts health insurance out of reach for far too many.
  • The CBO also said the AHCA would cut Medicaid funding by $880 billion, which would jeopardize essential care for 17 million seniors and people with disabilities and shift the cost to states, which could end up hurting their budgets and costing billions to state taxpayers.
  • Despite assurances that no one would lose coverage, the CBO report shows that 14 million Americans would lose coverage next year and the number would shoot up to 24 million by 2026.

Fortunately, there are elected officials on both sides of the aisle who’ve been skeptical about this bill for a whole host of reasons. And for some, the CBO report on the AHCA’s impact heightened concerns.

Rest assured, we will keep fighting to stop this legislation and any legislation that increases your costs and risks. We’ll keep monitoring what’s happening on the Hill and update you regularly.