Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AARP Is Wrong About Health Care Bill

AARP is wrong to support the new health care bill. The proposed health care reform bill will seriously harm any older adult not yet covered by Medicare who is an entrepreneur, freelancer, business owner, starving artist or part-time worker. We need a plan that lets people self-insure for the small stuff but protects us from catastrophic health care costs -- in other words, a high deductible plan. That is the only plan that is reasonable for people who can barely afford insurance now. It also makes people think twice before approving lots of tests or running to the doctor for the sniffles. It puts control in the hands of the consumer. But the current plan outlaws high deductible plans. This is crazy.

In states like NY where high deductible plans are outlawed, insurance for a part-time worker or freelance individual is $1,000 per month. In states like CT where they are allowed, the cost is $100 per month. For my daughter who is a nursery school teacher, even $100 per month is hard. She lives in MA, where her premiums are 40% higher than CT and are rising at 16% annually, even with a high deductible plan. (So much for Massachusetts's claim that costs are under control there. And, no, she cannot get subsidized insurance from the state. They turned her down on a bureaucratic technicality.) She can barely make ends meet. This is not right. There are AARP-aged people in similar situations.

The new bill is misguided. It will have highly detrimental, unintended consequences that are far reaching across the economy as it puts health insurance further out of reach for those not employed in a corporation or government system. And it will make people even more insulated from the true costs of medical care. This will not help get costs under control.

We need to get health care costs under control and to put more power of choice into the hands of consumers. We need a plan that people will want to join because it is affordable and protects them from catastrophic costs -- not because they'll be taxed if they don't buy one. The plan before Congress does not do this.

I'm not going to renew my AARP membership because I don't want to belong to an organization that is so short sighted.

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