Analysts predict health insurance premiums could go up by as much as $8000 a year for people age 50 and older under the American Health Care Act in its current form.
In addition to removing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the bill would allow insurers to charge as much as five times the premium to older policyholders compared to their younger counterparts. The plan is raising concerns for people like Cecilia Munoz, who served as director of domestic policy in the Obama administration.
"The AARP is calling what the House passed an 'age tax.' If Congress is going to be tinkering with health care coverage, they should be focusing on ways to make sure that costs go down, rather than up," Munoz said. "The results of what the House passed are really very clear: people lose coverage, fewer people will have coverage; the people who have coverage will be paying more for their premiums."
The Congressional Budget Office has not yet released its review of the current bill, but under the previous GOP health plan, it estimated that 24 million Americans would lose coverage. The bill will go before the U.S. Senate in the coming days, where it is expected to undergo major changes.
As someone who worked closely in the development of the Affordable Care Act, Munoz said it's important to remember how long it took to get some form of universal coverage for Americans.
"It took us 100 years to get to the health care reform law that passed in the Obama administration," she said. "Once you land on sort of the first iteration of health care, it's not going to be perfect. But we should be talking about making it better, not getting into a situation where millions of people lose their coverage."
Munoz said that for her, making the plan better will mean looking at ways to lower medical costs and prescription drug expenses.
AARP has estimated that premiums would increase for people starting at about age 46, and 40 percent of older adults ages 50-64 have a pre-existing condition that could mean being denied coverage outright.