Monday, November 23, 2009

Making the young pay more for health insurance: does that help pre-Medicare retirees?


Robert J. Samuelson has an op-ed on p. A19 of the Nov. 23 Washington Post that indicates that seniors should back off on demanding their tribute in the way of entitlements. The article is titled “Health ‘reform’ that burdens the young,” link here. AARP says that even a 2:1 max on how much seniors can be charged more in premiums is too much; AARP wants a “community rating” which ignores age altogether.

Who stands to gain quickly by making the young pay more? Probably retirees below Medicare-age. More and more companies drop retiree health insurance; an individual premium from BCBS for me would have been $400 a month at age 64; with the employer retiree insurance it was about $180.

Samuelson does agree that insurance companies could or should be banned from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions for “public policy” reasons, but age is not such a category. Working Americans already pay a Medicare tax. Not allowing insurance companies to price by age undermines the entire system, he says. But, for every one of us, youth is mathematically transitory. The only exception seems to be for the vampires in “Twilight”. (Maybe Robert Pattinson will always be 23.)

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