Regarding The Connection’s recent article on health disparities in Virginia (March 25, 2019, “Report Shows Geographic Disparities in Health in Virginia,”) I want to highlight another threat to care in our region: the Health Insurance Tax.
As a senior who depends on Medicare Advantage for affordable health care to help manage debilitating chronic migraines and back pain, I am appalled by the lack of congressional action on the Health Insurance Tax (HIT).
Medicare Advantage coverage has helped me get my life and my health back, but the HIT is nothing short of an attack on seniors. It would raise annual costs for more than 22 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries by as much as $241 per person annually, imposing a huge burden for those living on fixed incomes. Seniors on Social Security often live on significantly less than the mean income in Appalachia.
Key legislation before Congress (H.R. 1398 and S. 172) would stop the HIT and protect seniors, but Senators Kaine and Warner and Congressman Connolly have refused to sign on as co-sponsors. It seems like Congress has forgotten we are here.
If Congress allows a tax on my healthcare premiums, I won’t be able to afford coverage. If costs go up, I’m out of the game. Senior health isn’t a game – and the HIT is a multi-billion-dollar tax on health insurance premiums that will go into effect in 2020 unless Congress acts soon. It’s time for congressional action to stop the HIT and protect our care.