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Taking Gender Rating to Court

sick womanThis January, the City of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against California’s insurance commissioners. The city’s lawyers say that the state is discriminating against women, by allowing private insurers to factor in a person’s gender when determining premiums for individual health plans.

Wow – talk about timing!

In our newest As We See It article, we take a closer look at the practice of “gender rating.”  We show why we desperately need regulations in place to stop this form of discrimination.

Just this past fall, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) published a study showing that insurers use gender rating to charge women anywhere from 4-50% more than men for purchasing an individual policy.

In other words, insurers actually charge women higher annual premiums for coverage just because they are women.

One of the reasons that insurers can get away with this is because the states, and the federal government, do not regulate the individual market very closely.  For employer-sponsored coverage, in contrast, it is illegal to deny women coverage or to make them pay higher premiums.

So far, only a handful of states have banned or limited the use of gender rating in the individual market. California may be next to join the ranks, as state lawmakers there are considering similar legislation.

Maybe pressure from San Francisco and other groups around the state will help to push the bill through. The city has promised to drop the lawsuit once the legislation is passed.

Be sure to check out our As We See It article, “When Women Pay More: Gender Rating and the Individual Market.”

We’ll keep you updated about the lawsuit in California.

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