Regulators Hear Limited Complaints on ‘Gender Rating’ in California
Insurers' charging women higher premiums for individual health insurance policies has drawn more attention in recent months, but the California Department of Managed Health Care said that only nine people have complained to the department about the issue in the past two years, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Women who purchase insurance on the individual market sometimes pay as much as 48% more for coverage than men of a similar age, according to a National Women's Law Center study.
Insurance companies say the practice, called gender rating, is needed because younger women typically seek health care services more frequently than men.
Ten years ago, California banned gender-based pricing for haircuts, dry cleaning and other services, but the state permits health insurers to take an applicant's sex into account when determining premiums for an individual policy.Â
It is illegal to take sex into account when determining individuals' premiums for coverage under a group plan.
In January, San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the state aiming to prohibit insurers from practicing gender rating. However, the city opted to delay action on the suit while the state Legislature considers SB 54 and AB 119, which would ban the practice.
Lawmakers could consider the measures as early as this week.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) office said he has not yet taken a stance on the proposed legislation (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 5/11). 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.