Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition
The news has been dominated by the health care debate for the last few months. I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned on the TV or read a newspaper and seen the various parts of the bill- the public option, abortion funding, etc.- been featured again. However, I was surprised to learn that there is a major issue in health care that many people are unaware of. Gender rating, the practice of charging women more for healthcare, has largely flown under the public’s radar. This sexist system is a serious problem, as this is costing large numbers of women their health insurance coverage.
The National Women’s Law Center recently published a report that found widespread variety in pricing for health insurance based on gender. Women were charged inconsistently high rates, depending on their age and location. For example, a twenty five year old woman could be charged 6 to 45% more than a man of the same age. The reports also found out that in some states not only were women being charged more for their insurance, they were being denied coverage for having preexisting conditions like “pregnancy” or having a c-section in the past. In the states, it is even legal for an insurance company to reject a woman’s claim for coverage if she has been a victim (note: victim) of domestic violence or rape.
Insurance companies claim they only use gender rating as factor in figuring out the cost of insurance because it has been proven that women go to the doctor more than men. Apparently, this justifies charging women absurd amounts of money for coverage or denying them coverage altogether for “womanly” preexisting conditions. Sadly, only twelve states have barred or limited this practice, although many states are now considering legislation of the same effect. However, with the emphasis on the health care reform in Washington right now, there is no better time to have a nationwide law put in effect to end this sexist system. When Montana banned gender rating in 1993, it demonstrated how ending gender rating would have no serious economic effect on the health care industry. There is no reason why this practice should continue.
For gender rating to end, the government needs to hear how unacceptable we find it. Go to this site to learn more about gender rating and how to get involved in the campaign against it.