More than 450,000 Floridians over age 50 risk taking the nation’s biggest collective punch in the wallet from a House Republican overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, an analysis released Thursday shows.
Chris MacLellan, 60, of Lake Worth said he worries he may be priced out of the market completely.
“I’m pretty scared about what’s ahead of me,”said MacLellan, an author and family-caregiver consultant not covered by an employer’s health plan. “I won’t be making enough money to cover it.”
The loss of tax credits combined with new provisions that let insurers charge older consumers more could leave Americans between 50 and 64 paying about $8,400 more per year, the senior advocacy group AARP said.
Florida is “ground zero” for the impact of a GOP rewrite that the organization opposes, AARP Florida director Jeff Johnson said in a conference call Thursday.
Among the more extreme examples: A Monroe County resident making $20,000 at age 60 could lose as much as $13,000 in tax credits designed to make coverage more affordable — meaning she could be liable for health costs that represent two-thirds of her entire income, according to AARP.
The GOP plan passed another House committee Thursday mostly along party lines, though a handful of Republican defectors broke away.
A narrow 19-17 vote in the House budget committee Thursday saw three Republicans vote against it. That moved the American Health Care Act to the House Rules Committee, with GOP leaders hoping to take up the bill in the full House next week.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters there is “no palace intrigue” reflecting divisions in Republican ranks on how best to proceed.
President Trump, who campaigned on repeal and replacement of Obamacare as a core promise, emphasized he remains committed to “get something done” on health care at a Nashville rally Wednesday.
A Congressional Budget Office report this week calculated the House bill could save taxpayers $323 billion over 10 years but cause 24 million people to drop out of coverage.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the bill’s architects “disagree strenuously” with many CBO conclusions, including that 14 million more people will be priced out or otherwise drop insurance in 2018 compared to the original Obamacare.
Rates on ACA marketplace plans could rise 15 percent to 20 percent annually over two years and eventually drop about 10 percent below what the original ACA would produce by 2026, CBO estimated.
Marketplace costs are expected to rise in the short term under the GOP plan as some healthier consumers drop out because they lose subsidies and there is no longer a penalty to pay for not having insurance, CBO figured. Rates are expected to stabilize in two years and then begin to fall below what they would have been under the original ACA as insurers are allowed to offer skimpier coverage and it becomes cheaper, particularly for younger and higher-income consumers.
Some older Floridians with incomes around $45,000 might come out ahead with higher tax credits under the House plan, AARP official noted.
But state residents between the ages of 50 and 64 get especially slammed with a “double whammy,” AARP’s Johnson said. The House plan lets insurers charge older consumers five times more than they do younger customers, instead of three times under current law, he said. AARP calls that an “age tax.”
On top of that, Florida has more people than any other state in that age range who face steep cuts in government assistance designed to make premiums more affordable, he said.
Florida has 454,000 people ages 50 to 64 who get tax credits to pay for ACA marketplace plans, AARP officials said. That leads even more populous California (with 399,000) and Texas (with 313,000),
One of them is Lake Worth’s MacLellan.
He pays premiums of a little more than $30 a month in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan which has suited his needs just fine, he said.
He is still trying to calculate what his costs would look like under the rewrite, but worries he will not able to afford it on an income that has recently been in the $25,000 range.
It is difficult to find employers willing to hire people his age for full-time work with health benefits, he said.
“At 60, employers are not looking for me,” he said.
People in his age bracket are too young for Medicare and may face stark choices of paying a much higher share of their household budgets for an ACA marketplace plan — or just hoping they do not get sick.
“I would certainly not come out ahead,’ MacLellan said. “If this goes into effect, do I take the risk of not having insurance?”
Florida ground zero for health battle
States with most customers ages 50-64 receiving Affordable Care Act marketplace tax credits now
Source: AARP, 2017 Urban Institute Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model, data for 2016 enrollment.