Pundit, Heal Thyself: AARP Responds to Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–November 25, 2009.  AARP Executive Vice President John Rother issued this statement in response to Robert Samuelson’s November 23 syndicated Washington Post column, “Health ‘Reform’ That Burdens Our Young.”

“Pundit, heal thyself.

“In the latest salvo of his intergenerational war, Robert Samuelson defends age-rating, a discriminatory practice used by private insurers in the individual market to cherry-pick only the most profitable consumers by tying premiums to a person’s age.

“As a 63-year-old man with job-based health insurance, Mr. Samuelson enjoys ‘community-rated’ coverage that does not set premiums for him or his colleagues based on their age. Like most Americans with employer-provided insurance, he gets coverage without worrying about this or other roadblocks that base a person’s access to care on their gender and medical history.

“If Mr. Samuelson is willing to match his outrage with action, he could insist that his employer renegotiate its health plans to discriminate against his fellow fifty- and sixty-something coworkers. He could offer to reimburse his younger colleagues who have paid the same premiums and incurred, according to him, lower health care costs. Or, immediately, he could decline his employer-provided care and try his luck on the individual market.

“We’re guessing that Mr. Samuelson will keep what he has, and we stand by him.

“AARP believes that more Americans should enjoy the kind of affordable health security he has. We believe that he should not be discriminated against because of his age any more than a woman should because of her gender or a cancer survivor because of his health history.

“AARP understands that fairness is a fundamental American value, and any attempt at arbitrary discrimination runs counter to who we are. We hope Mr. Samuelson agrees.”