Older Georgians would get hit with higher costs under the new Republican health care plan, especially those in rural areas, according to some health care analysts.
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Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can charge older Americans only three times as much as they would younger Americans. Under the new plan, companies could charge five times as much.
“In general, they would pay more under the House bill, but certainly the disparity between different parts of the state would be exacerbated,” said Bill Custer, director of the Center for Health Services Research at Georgia State University.
Premiums in rural areas have also been higher because people often have more health issues and there is less competition between insurance companies, Custer said.
The Republican health care proposal would also give tax credits to help people pay for their insurance based only on their age, not on their income or where they live, which the Affordable Care Act takes into account.
Under the new plan, a 60-year-old would get a tax credit of $4,000 a year, whether premiums rise or not, Custer said.
“It may be similar to what a 60-year-old would get in a subsidy if they live in Atlanta, but it would be less than if they live in South Georgia,” he said.
According to estimates by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a 60-year-old in Irwin County who makes $40,000 a year would get a tax credit under the Affordable Care Act of $11,200 in the year 2020 – versus $4,000 under the new House plan.
Melissa Sinden, advocacy manager at AARP Georgia, which has about a million members in the state, said rising premiums would be harder for older people on fixed incomes.
“Most people in that category have their budgets pretty well set, and so things of this nature that upset that balance can be very detrimental to the everyday lives of older Americans,” Sinden said.