NU Online News Service, July 26, 5:24 p.m. – The Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington, is criticizing Republican and Democratic proposals to offer an individual health insurance premium tax credit for families with taxable incomes of up to about $65,000.

The tax credits would help younger, healthier Americans buy individual insurance, but they would not be enough to help older, sicker Americans buy coverage, the center argues.

The center, a nonpartisan think tank, predicts that the tax credit would be enough to cover at least half of the cost of an individual policy for 90% of uninsured, healthy people between the ages of 19 and 29.

But the credit would be big enough to cover half of the health coverage costs for only 1% of uninsured people between the ages of 55 and 64 who were in poor health, the center estimates.

The center looked at one tax-credit proposal offered by the Bush administration and a second, bipartisan proposal offered by a bipartisan coalition in the Senate.

Center researchers came up with their estimates of the proposals’ effects using data from household tracking surveys conducted in 1996-1997 ands 1998-1999.

The cost of individual premiums now averages only $214 per person per month, but the cost is $273 per month for adults between the ages of 55 and 64 who are in poor health, the center reports.

The bipartisan proposal is more generous than the Bush administration proposal, but it would not do much more than the administration proposal for adults between the ages of 55 and 64, the center says.

More information about the center analysis is available at http://www.hschange.org