October 26, 2021

Health bill hurts older Iowans

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are considering a bill that would drive up health care costs for Iowans ages 50 to 64 by thousands of dollars a year. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) imposes a double whammy on older consumers who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

First, the legislation allows for an “age tax,” giving insurers the ability to charge Iowans age 50 and over up to five times what younger consumers pay.

Second, the proposal will reduce federal income tax credits that help many Iowans pay for the insurance they have now. For example, in Jasper County, a 60-year-old with an annual income of $40,000 will see a 22 percent reduction in the available tax credit from $5,110 to $4,000, according to Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of the AHCA premium tax credits.

These two features of the proposed law threaten to deeply curtail an individual’s access to health care insurance at a time of life when it is most needed. Between the age tax and the reduced tax credits, premiums will soar, and rate hikes for older Iowans could be as high as $8,000 more just to keep the same coverage.

AARP opposes the American Health Care Act because it shifts the financial burden of health care to those who are older and can least afford it. Iowans, and all Americans, need a health care system that protects them in the insurance market, not one that sends them over the cliff. If you agree, contact your member of Congress to make sure your voice is heard.

Martha Willits and Ann Black

Des Moines