SHOUTAmerica, a non-profit organization focusing on the healthcare issues affecting young Americans, has unveiled a new calculator to help estimate costs of the looming health insurance rate hike that could soon hit many younger Americans. The SHOUTAmerica calculator is now available online at http://youngforaffordability.org/ .
The new SHOUTAmerica calculator is designed to help young Americans who purchase individual policies estimate the cost of their health insurance in 2014 – based on their age, income, where they live, and other variables – and also identifies whether they are eligible for other coverage options in the individual market. The tool demonstrates potential increases in individual market insurance premiums, which could spike by as much as 42 percent or more. SHOUTAmerica believes this will discourage younger individuals from participating in the system.
Beginning on January 1, 2014, new federal rules on how health plans price their coverage, including changes in how policies are priced for younger and older people (i.e., the 3:1 age rating requirement), broader benefit packages, health insurance taxes and other changes will cause insurance premiums to increase dramatically for younger, healthier Americans.
"Affordability and improved access are two of the cornerstones of the Affordable Care Act. SHOUTAmerica is concerned, however, that one of the law's lesser-known provisions – known as the age band rating system – in conjunction with other ACA reforms could have the unintended consequence of driving up health care costs and discouraging younger Americans from obtaining insurance," Brent Parton , program director for SHOUTAmerica, said.
"Starting next year, the law's new nationwide pricing requirements could create big price increases for millions of younger Americans – whose very participation in insurance pools is essential to helping to keep costs affordable for everyone. This is problematic, particularly at a time when millions of younger Americans already are facing other challenges to economic opportunity, including record student loan burdens and underemployment.
"We are even more alarmed by the fact that very few people are aware of these critical issues. We communicated our concern about the age rating changes while the law was being debated by Congress back in 2009, and we want to again ensure that our leaders are considering our interests as the law is implemented. SHOUTAmerica's new calculator will help educate younger Americans about the dramatic and disproportionate premium increases they could face. We encourage everyone to come visit our site and use our secure, anonymous calculator to determine whether they're at risk of facing rate hikes for their insurance costs.
"We also call on Americans to join with us as we urge the administration and Congress to consider the impact of these provisions on young Americans by possibly phasing-in the implementation of the age rating requirements and looking at other ways to lessen expected premium increases for younger Americans," Parton concluded. "It is paramount that we take steps to demonstrate and communicate the value of health insurance to young Americas and so that they get covered – we fear this age rating change and other ACA reforms complicates this objective in the near-term."
The cost estimates produced by the SHOUTAmerica calculator are based on actuarial analysis conducted by Oliver Wyman and 2010 U.S. Census records. The estimates do not account for Annual U.S. Medical Care Cost Inflation, and real costs could vary based on where they live, which insurance plans they choose, and other factors.
SHOUTAmerica recently informed the Obama administration of its concerns in a public comment letter on rules being drafted to implement the Affordable Care Act. The advocacy group noted that the new age rating system and other ACA reforms could lead to premium increases as high as 92 percent for 21-24 year olds who aren't covered by their parents insurance, and increases as high as 65 percent for those between 25-34. The letter was also co-signed by a set of other youth advocacy organizations.
SHOUTAmerica is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization committed to cultivating sustainable solutions and policies that address today's healthcare issues with a conscience for tomorrow.