Age Wars: How Health Reform Pits “The Old” vs. “The Young”

First, kudos to the President and Congressional leaders for trying to fix the biggest public policy issue we have in America. Healthcare costs are up 131% over the past decade, while wages and CPI are up 28% to 31%. Thats a big problem. And with 78 million seniors getting ready to hit the Medicare sysyem, the problems will continue to worsen.

Their motivations to control cost, for the most part, are well intentioned and welcomed.  Or at least welcomed, for sure.

But like all things “health reform”, the devil is in the details.  And it is in these details that lurk the unintended consequences.

My beef today is with the fact that both the House and Senate bills shift enormous burdens on the younger generations. I’m not talking about taxes or deficits right now–that’s the down the line burden-I am talking about key provisions that limit the amount insurance companies can charge older Americans, and the ensuing cost shift to younger people.   Consider the 2 following provisions:

1. Both bills outlaw “preferred underwriting”; that is premium discounts for the young and healthy.

2. Both bills put limits on the premium ratio between age and demographic groups.  In the House it’s capped at 2 to 1, meaning a 64 year old can never be charged more than double what an 18 year old can be charged.  Actuarial estimates would put the actual cost differential at 5 or more to 1.

A study conducted by an evil insurance carrier (Blue Cross) calculated the premium effect to be more than 100% for younger healthier people.

Is it fair to shift this burden to the young in our workforce?  And how will this regulations make our older Americans feel? And what about businesses-is it fair to shift the burden from a restaurant owner with employees who average 30 years old to a machine shop that averages 55?  HOW MUCH OF YOUR PROBLEM IS MY PROBLEM?

If people–whether young or old—understood the impact of these regulations, they would be angry (young) and embarassed (old), I think.

What do you think about this? And what do you think your parents would have to say about it?

About Bill Carew

Bill Carew is a managing principal for Ovation, a Digital Benefit Advisors Company. He is a healthcare entrepreneur and business leader with a passion for innovation, leadership and personal growth. With a tight knit group of partners, he has launched and grown four successful businesses, all of which have been positioned as innovative market leaders in mature industries. Bill attributes his success and personal satisfaction to being part of a forward-thinking management team that thrives on new challenges and allows him to regularly re-define his day to day responsibilities to focus on new and emerging opportunities. By continuously adapting to the changing needs of the business and the marketplace, he and his team remain personally energized and highly engaged in the growth and day to day operations of businesses. Bill is a member of the Metro-Hartford Alliance Healthcare Council and Chairman of the Wellness Committee, a frequent presenter to industry trade groups, and an active contributor to business and industry panels influencing the direction of healthcare policy and legislative activity. Bill has a BA in History from Boston College and an MA in Economics from Trinity College. Bill is a past recipient of the 40 Under 40 Award by the Hartford Business Journal, a member of the Northwest Catholic High School Board of Directors and immediate past Chairman of Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters. Bill resides in Simsbury, CT with his wife Karen and their four children.