Still Nowhere to Turn: Insurance Companies Treat Women Like a Pre-Existing Condition

Source: Brigette Courtot and Julia Kaye, National Women’s Law Center, 2009

The National Women’s Law Center (“NWLC” or “the Center”) has examined the current status of the widespread individual market insurance practices that it first reviewed in a 2008 report, Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women. These include gender rating, or the practice of charging same-aged women and men different premiums for identical health coverage; exclusions of coverage that only women need, like maternity care; and rejecting applicants for insurance coverage for reasons that include status as a survivor of domestic violence. In addition, in this report NWLC has investigated two previously unexplored issues: whether individual health insurance premiums are higher for a non-smoking woman even when compared to a man of the same age who reports tobacco usage, and the use and impact of gender rating in the group health insurance market.

NWLC has found that women continue to face unfair and discriminatory practices when obtaining health insurance in the individual market–as well as in the group health insurance market. Women are charged more for coverage simply because they are women, and individual market health plans often exclude coverage for services that only women need, like maternity care. In short, in the health insurance system, being a woman amounts to being treated like a “pre-existing condition.”

Leave a Reply