4:57 PM Eastern - Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Insurers Fighting Hard to Keep "Gender Rating," Avoid Maternity Care

ProtectWomensHealth_sm.jpgWomen in Colorado who purchase insurance on the individual market currently pay up to 59 percent more than men for coverage that doesn't even include maternity care. Now, a group of agents and insurance company representatives in their state are trying to keep it that way.

The Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters plans to lobby against efforts to include maternity care in individual plans, in addition their efforts to keep "gender rating" legal, and you won't believe why: insurers are actually telling legislators that they're concerned about how this all might affect men.

State Sen. Morgan Carroll, a Democrat from Aurora, gives us a peek at what they're telling state legislators. "The insurance industry lobbied against the bill prohibiting gender discrimination," says Carroll. "They met with lawmakers and were able to convince a handful that the rate discrimination was: a) justified; b) its removal would drive up men's rates."

Justifying their stance on "gender rating" and maternity care, CSAHU spokesperson and lobbyist Cindy Sovine-Miller accused the Colorado legislators of being "[...] more about fairness than math." Funny, that's not what others say. "At our hearings this summer, the insurance industry provided no justifiable data or reason for their charging women from 9 percent to 50 percent more for the same policy," wrote Democratic State Rep. Sue Schafer of Wheat Ridge. "Even men who smoke are charged less than women who do not smoke. Just being female is considered a pre-existing condition."

And speaking of health care "math," we simply can't ignore "math" like this:

Another Colorado group, the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Colorado (PIIAC), doesn't want to get all mucked up in the details. Instead, they're justifying their position on "gender rating" with a lesson on anatomy:

"The bottom line is this," said the group's executive VP Barbara Fidler. "As crude as it sounds, we women are more costly relative to our health care. Our plumbing -- I don't mean to sound crude -- the gender differences are clearly related to how we're different... I'm not saying that it's fair for women to be rated why they are. I think it's just important to understand."

If insurance lobbyists like CSAHU & PIIAC had their way, women Peggy Robertson would continue to be discriminated against for wanting to have more children. After deciding to stay home following the C-section birth of her second son, Peggy ventured to look for an independent health insurance plan. Instead of comprehensive coverage, Peggy's insurance company (a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group) offered her this little gem of advice: get sterilized--or you won't get coverage. Never mind the fact that over 30% of births in America are performed via C-section.

Once again, it's evident that when insurance companies win, women lose.

It's time to make sure our members of Congress hear their voices above those of the insurance lobbyists: http://action.seiu.org/page/speakout/peggy

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