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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