Bill pits seniors against young adults

Feb. 9, 2013 at 11:00 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A seniors advocacy group says if a bill in the U.S. Congress is approved health insurance companies could raise premiums by five-fold for those ages 50-64.

Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of the AARP said the proposed legislation -- the Letting Insurance Benefit Everyone Regardless of Their Youth, or LIBERTY Act -- would allow discriminatory and exorbitant health insurance premiums to be charged to seniors.

"This proposal is a huge step backward in making health insurance affordable for all Americans. The Affordable Care Act limited how health insurers would be allowed to vary premiums based on age, ensuring that insurance companies stop the discriminatory practice of charging exorbitant premiums to older Americans," LeaMond said in a statement.

"This proposed legislation would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times higher premiums or whatever rate a state sets -- the Affordable Care Act capped the number at three times -- but to do so would put the cost of health insurance for America's 50- to 64-year-olds at an astronomic level."

A recent analysis showed 1-in-3 adults in this age group live in families that spent at least 10 percent of their after-tax income in comparison with only 18 percent of adults age 19-49 paying that much for health insurance, LeaMond said.

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said he introduced the LIBERTY Act to protect young Americans from getting a dramatic spike in health insurance.

"The reality of this Obamacare provision is that young adults will be forced to subsidize healthcare costs for older, financially stable, working-age Americans," Gingrey said in a statement. "At a time when 20-somethings face underemployment, record school debt and less economic opportunity, it is unfair to saddle them with this burden."

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers must restrict the difference in premiums due to age to 3:1, but in reality, the cost disparity between a 26-year-old and 64-year-old approaches or exceeds 5:1 and to make up the difference, the costs will be passed on to young people in the form of higher premiums, Gingrey said.

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