Press Releases

24 National and Local Groups Call on Congress to Delay Health Insurance Tax

Seniors & Disabled on Medicare Face $245 Increase in 2018 Premiums

Washington, D.C. – Twenty-four national, state, and local organizations representing providers, community partners, and beneficiaries sent a letter to U.S. Congress calling for swift action to delay the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) for one year.

Over 20 percent of the $14.3 billion tax on health insurance falls on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans that could result in rising premiums and/or increased cost sharing paid by seniors and other beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage under part D.

Though Congress previously suspended the tax for 2017, it is scheduled to be reinstated for 2018.  If Congress does not act to delay the HIT, premiums for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could increase by $22 billion nationwide in 2018 - an additional $245 per year for each enrollee.

“During a time where there is already so much uncertainty among seniors and disabled Americans about health care, Congress has a small window of opportunity to avoid harmful premium increases on beneficiaries. Higher premiums could put the high-quality, comprehensive health coverage Medicare Advantage provides financially out for reach for millions of Americans living on fixed incomes,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) President and CEO.

An August 2017 actuarial analysis from Oliver Wyman indicates that beyond 2018, premium increases for senior and disabled Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could grow to more than $300 in 2023.

“Forty percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees live on less than $20,000 per year. Medicare Advantage is an important source of coverage for low-income and racial/ethnic minority beneficiaries. For those who suffer from chronic conditions, barriers to critical primary care and disease management covered by Medicare Advantage could be devastating,” said Dr. Elena Rios, President of the National Hispanic Medical Association.

“With Medicare Advantage, providers can deliver the type of important preventive care and chronic care management once reserved for wealthy individuals at far lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. As Medicare Advantage practitioners who treat low-income seniors across six states, we know firsthand that many simply will not be able to afford premium increases,” said Dr. Christopher Chen, CEO of ChenMed, a primary care provider for seniors headquartered in Florida.

In 2016, nearly 400 Democrats and Republicans in Congress voted to delay the impact of the HIT for 2017. As a result, the average Medicare Advantage monthly premium is four percent lower this year compared to 2016 when the tax was in effect. The letter calls on Congress to vote to delay the tax, before premiums for 2018 are finalized by the end of the year.

View full letter signed by the following organizations:

Area Agency on Aging Palm Beach / Treasure Coast, Inc. (Florida)

Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness

Better Medicare Alliance

ChenMed (Florida)

Healthcare Leadership Council

Iora Health (Massachusetts)

Meals on Wheels America

National Association of Dental Plans

National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP)

National Hispanic Council on Aging

National Hispanic Medical Association

National Medical Association

National Minority Quality Forum

New Jersey State Nurses Association

Northwell Health (New York)

Nurse Practitioner Association New York State

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

Pittsburgh Business Group on Health

Prevea Health (Wisconsin)

SilverSneakers by Tivity (Tennessee)

SNP Alliance

Summa Health System (Ohio)

Teachers’ Retirement System of Kentucky

US Chamber of Commerce