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End the “Age Tax” on 50- to 64-Year-Old Americans

End the “Age Tax” on 50- to 64-Year-Old Americans

Did you know that health insurance companies charge Americans aged 50 to 64 as much as 5 times what they charge younger Americans for the same coverage — just because of age?

That’s right. You get the same coverage as someone who’s 30. You could even be healthier than the person who’s 30. But because you’ve reached the magic number of 50 years, you’re suddenly paying 5 times what that 30-year-old is paying. And it’s wrong.

Want an example? Look no further than a recent USA Today article:

Chris Denny, who runs a small marketing firm in Santa Rosa, Calif., buys his own health insurance for $117 a month. An avid gardener, Denny, 27, describes himself as healthy and fit.

Yet the same policy, from the same insurer, would cost a 60-year-old man $735 a month, according to an estimate at eHealthInsurance, an online marketplace that lists quotes and coverage from a variety of insurers.

You might say it makes some amount of sense to charge older people more for health insurance. But the problem really lies in the 5 to 1 ratio. Consider this fact from the USA Today article:

Average medical spending per person among 18- to 44-year-olds was $2,079 in 2006, the latest data available from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Spending for 45- to 64-year-olds was $4,866, about 2.3 times more.

So if medical expenses are an average of 2.3 times as much as those for younger Americans, why are the 50- to 64-year-olds getting charged 5 times as much?

It comes down to greed, of course. And if there’s one thing the health reform debates have showed us, it’s that insurance companies will do everything in their power to keep their profits large. And that includes discriminating against Americans 50 to 64.

As Natale Zimmer, health policy director for OWL – The Voice of Midlife and Older Women writes in a great article in the Huffington Post, “The insurance lobby is trying to create fear among younger workers that they will be burdened by the cost of health care for older Americans, and playing into ageism, a sad reality in our society. The fact is that if everyone pays the same, as in true community rating, risk is fairly spread, and for those who are healthy now, at whatever age, they have the comfort of knowing that when they are sick, whether it be at 28 or 58, they will not have to worry about losing coverage because of cost or being dropped.”

It’s time to end this policy — and the current health reform legislation being debated is the best time to do that. Take action today and tell your elected representatives that age rating is discrimination — and it needs to end!

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53 comments

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8:28PM PDT on May 20, 2012

"So if medical expenses are an average of 2.3 times as much as those for younger Americans, why are the 50- to 64-year-olds getting charged 5 times as much?" This contradicts the data that was quoted... It seems to be the opposite of what you're arguing...

6:15PM PDT on Oct 4, 2009

WE BABY-BOOMERS HAVE BEEN GETTING SCREWED SINCE THE DAY WE WERE BORN. HATE TO SAY IT, BUT IT'S NOTHING NEW....

2:01PM PDT on Oct 3, 2009

There are still some people who can afford insurance?

8:00PM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

Bull Hockey!!! Why should we not have the same advantage of insurance as Obama and his family get's?? Just because he's the President does not make him any better than me or you or anybody else, He still wipe's his butt and puts his pants on the same way we do. As a matter of fact his health is probaly worse than our's stress!!!. I got a big letter from one of my Sentors about the Heath care if I still have it I will post it later its a bunch of more Bull Hockey!!! just goes around and around.

11:13AM PDT on Sep 25, 2009

"Selfish hypocrites! I am getting real tired of their tactics and lies. I'd like to beat em up side the head with an ugly stick!"

Ross,
I'm sorry to tell you its too late. It looks like somebody already has.

7:00AM PDT on Sep 25, 2009

Folks, here are some 'common sense' FACTS:
1. Congress is 'run' by lobbyists and special interests.
2. Lobbyists and special interests use our Constitution, the Amendments and our Bill of Rights "as individuals", which they ARE NOT (they are organizations 'paying' individuals to say whatever they 'pay' to have said).
3. Members of Congress (many, if not all) are self-conscious, self-indulging, GREEDY bast@!^s who've granted themselves UNCHECKED pay raises (some during the nations most serious financial times), solid gold health care packages FOR LIFE and retirement that's scandalous (who's ever heard of tenure after 'five' days, let alone retirement nearly equal to their regular pay).
4. Citizens are complacent, ignorant and lazy, which allows lobbyists, special interest groups and Congress to continue to FEED ON OUR MONEY.
There you are folks, now you know who's to blame.
If you don't like where OUR country is going, GET THE FACTS...and OPEN YOUR MOUTHS (start talking to your family, friends and neighbors and START COMPLAINING to anyone who will listen...by mouth and in writing). DO IT NOW!

5:09AM PDT on Sep 25, 2009

didn't sign it because I believe that any bill coming out of the Senate would likely be a sham and a scam.

Exactly. When you're from Kansas and you have someone like Sam Brownback for a Senator, you know you're fighting a losing battle. He is only for the big corporations and for the wealthy. He doesn't care a d!@# about the poor and middle-class. The only reason I don't just physically confront him is because I work for a non-profit civil rights agency for a certain group of people Brownback will have nothing to do with, and I do not want to ruin my employer's efforts to get him to at least work with them. (And no, we are not an anti-defamation league for gays and lesbians, though, as a straight, I support their cause because I believe a person is born gay or lesbian, that it is NOT a choice).

5:03AM PDT on Sep 25, 2009

"Personal responsibility" my *ass! Selfish hypocrites! I am getting real tired of their tactics and lies. I'd like to beat em up side the head with an ugly stick!

Wait a minute, Ross L., I have a better idea except a lot more of us are going to have to get involved. Do those health insurance company CEOs and executives like that what was done to that census worker when they have denied us care or coverage, except attach the word "thug" on them and hang them from the highest tree. It's like that saying in the commercial, "It's the only way to play the game, you gotta get MEAN to play the game. And no, it isn't necessarily lowering ourselves to their level. It's us or them. I would rather an ordinary American with just so much money survive "the game" than some fat cat greedy son of a bitch CEO or executive gloating that they denied another person a quality life so they can have "theirs." Sure, it's class warfare, but then now, let's take the war to THEM. You gotta get mean, that's the only way to play this "game."

4:52AM PDT on Sep 25, 2009

Pretty much everything is geared to work against the middle class and down

Exactly, Ross L., Part of the reason conservatives don't want to give up the present health care insurance system is the fact that it affectively wages class warfare,
and the "death panels" they REALLY want but falsely railed against in the process of protesting any change, are already intact. Adolph Hitler would have been ALL for the present system. It employs eugenics (the killing off of those who need life-saving treatments but have been denied to save enough money for the CEO and executives to have their bonuses, and so that the person who has been denied will be one less "imperfect" person using up public resources. Our "peoples' revolution" must consist of doing to any executive or CEO who denies us coverage the same thing that was done to that census worker, except the word "thug" attached to the scumball. If someone denies me coverage and causes me serious health consequences and/or bankruptcy, the CEO or executive of that health insurance company will never be seen nor heard from again. That is the only way to fight this. Just start killing THEM off.

4:32AM PDT on Sep 25, 2009

So why does my son, a single man, age 23, pay over $500 a month under COBRA? I'd love to know who Chris Denny's insurer is.

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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