Women getting insurance on the individual market are paying $1 billion more than men, according to a report from the National Women’s Law Center released Monday. In the 37 states that have not banned insurance companies for charging more based on gender, women can expect to pay significantly more than men.
The report found 56 percent of “best-selling” plans charge a 40-year old woman who does not smoke more than a 40-year-old male smoker. According to the report, 7.5 million women get health insurance through the individual market.
“It’s important that women learn how the law corrects insurance discrimination, which costs them hard-earned dollars, and how it is already working for them in many other ways,” Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement.
The report is part of the center’s “I Will NOT Be Denied,” campaign, which aims to educate women on what the benefits of the health reform law. It is part of dozens of similar efforts Democrats and liberal groups will hold over the next two weeks, marking the second anniversary of the health reform law and oral arguments over the law in the Supreme Court.
More than 30 groups, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, FamiliesUSA, and and Service Employees International Union are part of the National Women’s Law Center campaign. The National Women’s Law Center also found the vast majority of plans on the individual market do not cover maternity services, unless required by the state they are operating in. That means the high costs that can be associated with pregnancy cannot explain the discrepancies between covering men and women.
“The difference in premiums charged to women and men varies to such a large degree across states and insurance companies, that it is difficult to point to actuarial justifications as the cause of much of the difference,” said the report. The health reform law bans insurance companies from charging different rates based on gender in 2014, and will require individual insurance plans on state insurance exchanges to cover maternity services.
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