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Women Pay More For Health Insurance in California, Other States

Posted Jan 22 2009 5:57pm

Women's health insurance Erin Allday from the San Francisco Chronicle  recently reported on a proposal from the S.F. Attorney General that would eliminate bias in health insurance rates. Health insurance companies claim that they should be allowed to charge women under 55 more for health insurance than men, since they are more likely to suffer from some chronic illnesses and visit doctors for preventative care more often.

While 12 states ban or restrict the practice of gender rating, California does not. Women who buy individual health plans in California pay up to 39% higher premiums than men, according to Erin. The city of San Francisco is getting involved because women end up going to city clinics or emergency rooms because they can’t afford health insurance, costing the government money. 

A spokesman from America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, states that gender rating is not discriminatory since women use more services. In addition, older men pay more for health insurance than older women. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prevents women from being charged more for their premiums based solely on their gender.

The National Women’s Law Center report found that women nationwide pay up to 48% more for health insurance than men, excluding maternity coverage. Maternity coverage is the most obvious factor that could drive up the cost of women’s health insurance.

It has been proven that preventative health care (check-ups and screenings) ends up costing insurance companies and society less in the long run. Should younger women be punished for taking responsibility for their well-being?

(Photo credit: Adria Richards under CC 2.0)

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