Senate Democrats

Senate Health Insurance Reform Ends Coverage Discrimination Against Women

For women, affordable health insurance is frequently not an option.  Only six percent of women aged 18-64 are able to purchase insurance outside employment, generally because they are discriminated against both when they apply for coverage and when their premiums are determined.  [Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/2009]  This leads to substantial disparities in women’s ability to afford health care, and when compared to men, women “…are more likely to forgo needed care because of cost and to have problems paying their medical bills, accrue medical debt, or both.” [Commonwealth Fund, 5/2009]   Senate health insurance reform ends these discriminatory practices by insurance companies and ensures that women are able to obtain the health care coverage they need at a price they can afford.

Insurance companies charge women more than men for the same coverage.  In the majority of states, insurance companies are permitted to charge women more than men for the exact same insurance policy.  For example, “Holding other factors constant, a 22-year-old woman can be charged one and a half times the premium of a 22-year-old man.” [HealthReform.gov, accessed 9/29/2009]

·         Senate health insurance reform ends discrimination against women when setting premiums.  Senate health insurance reform ends gender discrimination in pricing insurance, ensuring that women and men pay the same price for the same coverage. [Affordable Health Choices Act, Senate HELP Committee, accessed 9/22/2009; Chairman's Mark, Senate Finance Committee, 9/16/2009]

Insurance companies deny coverage to victims of domestic violence.  Eight states and the District of Columbia permit health insurers to deny health insurance coverage to survivors of domestic violence by labeling their experience a “pre-existing condition.” [National Women's Law Center, 2008]  Yet perpetrators of domestic violence do not face this discrimination by health insurers.

·         Senate health insurance reform ends discrimination against victims of domestic violence.  Senate health insurance reform prohibits insurance companies from denying insurance to anyone solely because they are a survivor of domestic violence.  In fact, Senate health insurance reform ends coverage denials for this and other “pre-existing conditions.” [Affordable Health Choices Act, Senate HELP Committee, accessed 9/22/2009; Chairman's Mark, Senate Finance Committee, 9/16/2009]

Very few insurance companies cover maternity care.  The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that just 14 states require policies offered in the individual market to cover maternity care. [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 9/29/2009]   A study by the National Women’s Law Center of 3,500 insurance policies offered in the individual market found that just 12 percent included comprehensive maternity coverage. [National Women's Law Center, 2008]

·         Senate health insurance reform ends discrimination against pregnant women.  Senate health insurance reform prohibits insurance companies from issuing policies in the individual and small group markets that do not include coverage of maternity care services. [Affordable Health Choices Act, Senate HELP Committee, accessed 9/22/2009; Chairman's Mark, Senate Finance Committee, 9/16/2009]

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