Individual health insurance is already far more affordable than critics charge and would become even more so if Congress enacts President Bushs proposal to provide tax credits for the purchase of individual coverage, the president of the Health Insurance Association of America says.
There is a lot of misinformation and many inaccurate statements among those who support government-sponsored health insurance that individual coverage is too expensive and President Bushs tax credit proposal would not work, according to HIAA President Don Young, who spoke at a press briefing.
In fact, he says, individual health insurance is already affordable for millions of Americans.
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Thomas Wildsmith, policy research actuary for the Washington-based HIAA, says that a survey of 12 member companies, which issued more than one million individual policies, found that monthly premiums for individual health insurance currently average $173 for single coverage and $334 for family coverage.
The premiums vary according to age. For those 19-years-old and under, the average single premium is $82 per month and average family premium is $143 per month.
For those between ages 60 and 64, the average single premium is $304 per month and the average family premium is $519 per month.
If President Bushs tax credit proposal is enacted, he said, the overall average monthly cost would drop to $89 for single coverage and $84 for family coverage, he says.
For those in the age 60 to 64 category, the premiums would be $220 per month for single coverage and $269 per month for family coverage.
Wildsmith also says that many low income Americans are already purchasing individual health coverage. Thus, he says, any argument that tax credits wouldnt work unless they cover the entire premium simply is not true.
Young acknowledges that the survey does not have data on the nature of the individual policies purchased, that is, whether the policies are comprehensive or bare-bones.
He says that individuals have different needs, and the choices they make would reflect the wide range of different policies available.
Wildsmith adds that a tax credit would not only help those without coverage to buy insurance, it would help those with insurance to upgrade their coverage.
Young says he expects Congress to consider tax credits sometime this month.
Under President Bushs proposal, the government would provide tax credits worth $1,000 per adult and $500 per child, up to a maximum per family credit of $3,000, for those without employer-provided coverage to purchase individual health insurance.
Among the sharpest critics of the Bush proposal is Families USA, the consumer group, based in Washington.