The Trump Administration Is Now Redefining the Number 3


Obamacare mandates an age band of 3:1. That is, old people can be charged no more than three times as much as young people for the same insurance. Conservatives want to change this to 5:1. Why? I’m honestly not sure. But they sure seem to feel strongly about it.

Unfortunately, Obamacare says 3:1, so that’s that. There’s no way to change the age band except via congressional action. Or so you’d think. Jonathan Cohn reports that the Trump administration has come up with a cunning plan:

HHS has already submitted a proposal of new rules to OMB….Insurers would have more leeway to vary prices by age, so that premiums for the oldest customers could be 3.49 times as large as those for younger customers. Today, premiums for the old can be only three times as high as premiums for the young, which is what the Affordable Care Act stipulates. According to sources privy to HHS discussions with insurers, officials would argue that since 3.49 “rounds down” to three, the change would still comply with the statute.

Is this true? There’s no telling since HHS isn’t talking and OMB still doesn’t even have a website. But I find it hard to believe. Even for the Trumpists, this is an unusually moronic argument. It would get laughed out of court in minutes. I can hardly wait to find out if HHS is seriously proposing this.