Older Americans may have to postpone retirement under Republican health bill

Retirement might not be an affordable option

  BY Robert Powell, Retirement Columnist, Marketwatch
with quotes from Dr. Katy Votava
Published: Mar 11, 2017 11:52 a.m. ET


The House Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would allow insurers to charge older workers health insurance premiums five times as much as younger ones and give states the option to set their ratio, according to published reports.

Under the ACA, also known as Obamacare, plans can charge their oldest customers only three times the prices charged to the youngest ones.

Given that possible change, experts say pre-Medicare workers are likely to stay in their jobs longer to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance, even though they may be ready to retire in other ways— financially and emotionally, for instance — to retire.

“It seems entirely plausible that the new rules would discourage older workers from retiring or going out on their own to start a new business — if it means giving up employer-sponsored health coverage,” said Tricia Neuman, a senior vice president and director of the program on Medicare policy at Kaiser Family Foundation.

Read: What the House Republican bill gets wrong about the health insurance market

Under the House Republicans’ proposal, self-employed adults in their early 60s, or who retire and choose to purchase coverage on their own, could face higher premiums for their health insurance with the proposed five-to-one age bands.

 But experts can’t, at present, determine what older Americans might pay under the House Republicans’ bill. “We can’t say with precision what the payment for someone after the Republican tax credit would be because there are a lot of other changes outside of the tax credit,” said Cynthia Cox, an associate director at the Kaiser Family Foundation, noting that doing away with the individual mandate, for example, would have a significant effect on premiums. “I don’t think there is a lot of reason to believe that premium would be significantly lower under this bill than under the ACA.”

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