Higher Insurance Rates for Women Draw Scrutiny in California
Legislation under consideration in the California Legislature aims to change state law to bar health insurers from charging women more for coverage than men, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Under AB 119 by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), insurers would be prohibited from taking a health insurance applicant's sex into account when setting premiums, a practice known as gender rating.Â
Lawmakers also are considering AB 98 by Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) that would require health plans to cover maternity services.
A Mercury News analysis indicated that women's premiums can be at least 7% higher than men's premiums for some health plans, although the analysis found that men were quoted higher premiums for some coverage.
The analysis was based on a review of rates for the 10 most popular health plans available through ehealthinsurance.com.
Insurance companies say that their rates are based on actuarial studies, noting that women, particularly younger women, typically seek more preventive care than men, resulting in higher costs.
San Francisco LawsuitIn January, the city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit that seeks to ban disparate health care rates for men and women.Â The suit is on hold until the outcome of the legislation (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 4/18). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.