HB 1008 Gender Discrimination in Health Insurance Rates
March 02, 2010
I am proudly carrying HB 1008 (S. Schafer, McCann - M. Carroll - Schwartz) which passed out of the house with only 2 no votes. At issue is the question of using "gender" as a rating factor in insurance premiums, apart from a persons actual claim history.
The National Women's Law Center originally released a report in 2008 called "Nowhere to Turn" which documented serious up-charging for women in the individual health insurance market, even in policies where there as no maternity coverage of any kind. They issued an updated report in 2009 called "Still Nowhere to Turn: Insurance Companies Treat Women Like a Pre-Existing Condition".
Women are paying on average 40% more for their individual health insurance premiums than men, for the exact same policies, even excluding maternity coverage.
The large group market has been prohibited from gender discrimination in its rates since passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Colorado closed the discrimination loophole for the small group market but has not closed the loophole for the individual health market. It is past time we did so.
The study found huge variation which defies any actuarial basis ranging from within the same age category and even within the same state. When the data supports an actuarial under-pinning one would expect a narrow range of deviation between plans using the same data in the same state but those variations range from 1% - 84. Only Kaiser Permanente in Colorado does not use gender rating in any of its plans.
At age 40, half of the best-selling plans in Colorado still charge women up to 48% more than their male peers who smoke. This is compounded by the fact that women in Colorado with a batchelor's degree still earn only 64% of the amount earned by men with a batchelor's degree, and are disproportionately in lower wage jobs that do not provide health insurance.
This bill would make insurance more affordable for 140,000 women and their dependent children who depend on the individual health insurance market for their access to health care. It would help help some of the 277,000 Colorado women with no coverage by making it more affordable.
This bill would still allow carriers to use prior claims history so that patients who use more medical services would pay more (regardless of gender) and those who use less services would pay less.
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