Trumpcare Would Be Devastating For Older Americans

The president's health care bill poses great danger to some of the most vulnerable among us.
06/08/2017 01:45 pm ET
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Trumpcare would be devastating for millions of American families, but perhaps no one will bear the brunt of its cruelty more than older Americans. This harmful legislation raises costs and imposes a crushing age tax on older Americans right when they need the money the most ― just before retirement. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevented insurance companies from charging older enrollees more than three times the rate charged to their youngest enrollees. This ensures coverage is affordable for older Americans. However, under Trumpcare, states could choose to allow insurance companies to increase premiums for older Americans as high as they like, exposing older Americans to exponentially higher premiums. AARP estimates that allowing insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more than younger enrollees would add an average of $3,200 annually to premiums for adults age 60 or older. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also confirmed that older Americans could see their premiums increased by over 800 percent under Trumpcare. About half of households age 55 and olderhave no retirement savings and these pre-retirement individuals can’t afford more health costs shifted onto them.

In addition to skyrocketing premiums, Trumpcare also unravels protections that older Americans want and need in their health coverage. The ACA currently requires health insurance companies to cover ten categories of essential health benefits in Marketplace plans, including mental health treatment and prescription drug coverage. Trumpcare strips away this guaranteed coverage, potentially leaving millions of older Americans without access to the coverage or the medications they need.  We know that three out of four adults age 50 and over take at least one prescription medication on a regular basis.  Losing access to quality and comprehensive coverage, including for prescription drugs, would be devastating to older Americans.

That’s not all. Trumpcare frees insurers to set premiums for enrollees, including older Americans, based on their health status. This would take us back to the days when health insurance coverage was unaffordable for individuals with pre-existing conditions ― especially for the 25 million older adults with pre-existing conditions. Exorbitantly high premiums and coverage that excludes certain conditions, such as hypertension, are, in practice, no different than coverage denials. If an insurer wanted to deny someone coverage, they could simply offer a plan with an overly expensive premium or a plan without the kind of coverage needed.

All in all, Trumpcare is a bad plan for older Americans.

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) is a member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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