Romney Medicare Plan Will Leave Some Seniors Uninsured

Family USA’s Ron Pollack makes an important point at the very bottom of this Kaiser Health News article about Mitt Romney’s Medicare “premium support” proposal. The former Massachusetts governor is seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, while gradually increasing the Medicare eligibility age. That means that younger seniors won’t have the option of enrolling in the ACA’s state-based exchanges and will likely end up uninsured:

In addition to transforming Medicare into a premium support program, Romney would raise the program’s eligibility age to reflect the fact that Americans are living longer. But he has premised all of his changes on first repealing the 2010 health law.

That could leave some retirees without health coverage, because older people are more likely than younger ones to have chronic, pre-existing medical conditions. Without the health law’s requirement that insurers cover most people, many could not obtain affordable coverage.

“If you eliminate the Affordable Care Act, it means that 65 and 66 year olds won’t have that resource. The result will be a substantial number of people joining the ranks of the uninsured. Many of these folks are retired and have moderate incomes, so this is going to be a huge setback for a large number of 65 and 66 year olds who would lose coverage,” Pollack said.


Now, Romney will likely offer some kind of high-risk pool alternative, but that coverage will likely be too expensive for most. And so what we’ll see is uninsured 65 to 67 year olds entering the Medicare program sicker than they otherwise would have been, thus increasing costs in the program. In fact, one study found that “chronically ill people turning age 65 who were previously uninsured had lower spending than insured people prior to Medicare. Yet once on Medicare, these uninsured Americans spent 50 percent more than previously insured Medicare beneficiaries who also had chronic disease.”