Seniors Support Freedom Of Choice For Health Care

Congressman Chris Cox Introduces Legislation To Put Consumers In Control

Arlington, VA — The 60 Plus Association lauded U.S. Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) for introducing H.R. 1117, the Health Care Freedom of Choice Act, which will allow 100% tax deductibility for senior citizens’ out-of-pocket health expenses, including pharmaceutical and Medigap premiums.

Medicare coverage does not mean seniors don’t have to pay for health care. Of the nearly 35 million Americans over age 65, 90% spend their own money to buy private insurance in addition to Medicare and Medicaid.

Employer-provided health insurance and medical expense coverage are tax-exempt to employees. But the same premiums and expenses, if paid for by individuals, are not tax deductible. This tax discrimination chains individuals to whatever health care their employers offer and denies them any freedom of choice–in both their health care and their employment.

Because competition and choice in the private health care market are limited, health care consumers are paying inflated prices–and many have trouble affording them. Older Americans average $3,493 in annual out-of-pocket health care expenditures. According to a 2000 study from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., the majority of Medicare beneficiaries who had no supplemental private insurance reported that it was too expensive or that they could not afford it. Lack of choice is not the only problem facing health care consumers. Health care costs are spiraling out of control.

60 Plus Association President Jim Martin said, “Our tax code’s bias towards employer-based care has spawned a health care market of a few large group health plans. This has taken decision-making power away from doctors and consumers and vested it in the hands of sprawling health care bureaucracies.”

Rep. Cox’s Health Care Freedom of Choice Act will restore true competition to the health care system. This fundamental tax reform will let consumers choose the health coverage–and the price–they want, resulting in higher quality treatment and lower prices.