Category Archives: Working Women

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.”

Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (2009 Edition)

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 1018, September 2009

From the introduction:
The past several decades have been marked by notable changes in women’s labor force activities. Women’s labor force participation is significantly higher today than it was in the 970s, particularly among women with children, and a larger share of women work full time and year round than in past decades. In addition, women have increasingly attained higher levels of education: among women aged 25 to 64 who are in the labor force, the pro- portion with a college degree roughly tripled from 1970 to 2008. Women’s earnings as a proportion of men’s earnings also have grown over time. In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men did; in 2008, women’s earnings were 80 percent of men’s.

This report presents historical and current labor force and earnings data for women and men from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a national monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unless otherwise noted, data are annual averages from the CPS. Users should note that the comparisons of earnings in this report are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences.

America’s Families and Living Arrangements 2007

Source: Rose M. Kreider and Diana B. Elliott, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, September 2009

Some highlights of the report are:
– Sixty-eight percent of households in 2007 were family households, compared with 81 percent in 1970.
– The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2007, from 17 percent to 27 percent.
– Between 1970 and 2007, the average number of people per household declined from 3.1 to 2.6.
– Most family groups with children under 18 (67 percent) were maintained by married couples.
– The vast majority of fathers who lived with their child under 18 also lived with the child’s mother (94 percent). In comparison, 74 percent of mothers living with their child under 18 also lived with the child’s father.
– Stay-at-home mothers were younger and had younger children than other mothers.
– Stay-at-home mothers were more likely to be Hispanic than non-stay-at-home mothers.
– Stay-at-home mothers were more likely to be foreign born than non-stay-at-home mothers.
– Among children living with a parent, younger children were more likely than older children to live with two unmarried parents. So, while 10 percent of infants under age 1 lived with two unmarried parents, 1 percent of children 12 to 17 lived with two unmarried parents.
– Among children living with unmarried parents, older children were more likely than younger children to live with their father only, with no other adult present. Only about 2 percent of children under 3 lived with their father who was the sole adult, while 11 percent of teens 12 to 17 did.
See also:
Census Report Shines New Light on Women “Opting Out”
Source: Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2009

Equitable Prescription Drug Coverage: Preventing Sex Discrimination in Employer-Provided Health Plans

Source: Steve Befort and Elizabeth Canney Borer, Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 70, 2009

From the abstract:
Nearly half of large, employer-sponsored group health plans in the United States do not cover prescription contraceptives used by women. This exclusion contributes to unintended pregnancies, higher out-of-pocket expenses, and adverse social consequences. The federal courts currently are split on whether this exclusion violates Title VII as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). In a recent decision that is of first impression at the circuit court level, the Eighth Circuit ruled in In re Union Pacific Railroad Employment Practices Litigation that the lack of contraception coverage in an employee health insurance plan that covered Rogaine and Viagra for men did not violate the PDA because contraception is not related to pregnancy.

This article reviews the pertinent legislative history and case law and proposes a two-part strategy for expanding the availability of prescription contraceptives in employer-sponsored health plans. First, employers that exclude prescription contraceptives from employee health insurance plans should be held to violate the PDA. Such a violation occurs because the failure to provide insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives necessarily affects a sex-related medical condition since only women can become pregnant. This article additionally urges the adoption of an amendment to ERISA – the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act – which would mandate all group health plans to include prescription coverage as a matter of federal law. Such an enactment would avoid ERISA preemption and serve to require prescription contraceptive coverage in both insurance-based and self-insured employer health plans.

Comprehensive Health Insurance Reform: An Essential Prescription for Women

Source: U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, August 6, 2009

From the press release:
Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), along with Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jim Moran released a JEC new report entitled, “Comprehensive Health Insurance Reform: An Essential Prescription for Women.” The report reveals that during the recession, women are experiencing a double-whammy of lost health insurance as they lose their insurance due to either their own or their spouse’s job loss. In addition, the JEC report chronicles the vulnerability created by women’s dependence on their spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance, the unique risk of un-insurance for younger and older women, and the spike in newly uninsured children of unemployed single mothers.

The Market Defense

Source: Sharon Rabin-Margalioth, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah – Radzyner School of Law, working draft, July 29, 2009

From the abstract:
Too often women encounter the argument that pay disparity is the outcome of market forces and not sex discrimination. Salary differentials are attributed to individual pay demands, bargaining effectiveness, external counteroffers and/or prior salaries. These are just a few examples of market justifications employers raise to explain why similar workers performing the same job are compensated differently.

This paper argues that, in most cases, market justifications for pay disparity in equal pay for equal work litigation should be rejected. The paper then takes on the more ambitious project of proposing an alternative model of gender discrimination, which is not restricted to causation.

Family-Friendly Workplaces: Do Unions Make a Difference?

Source: Jenifer MacGillvary with Netsy Firestein, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and
the Labor Project for Working Families, July 2009

This report analyzes the “union difference” in family-friendly workplace policies and finds that in areas such as paid family leave, paid sick days, family health insurance, and child-care benefits unionized workers receive more generous family-friendly benefits than their nonunionized counterparts.
See also:
Executive Summary
Press Release

Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System Does Not Work for Women

Source: Meena Seshamani, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,, 2009

From the press release:
The report shows how our current system is leaving millions of women without the affordable, quality care they need.

Roadblocks to Health Care reports:
– 21 million women and girls are uninsured.
– In the individual insurance market, women are often charged higher premiums than men during their reproductive years. 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.
– In a recent national survey, more than half of women (52 percent) reported delaying or avoiding needed care because of cost, compared with 39 percent of men.

Job Patterns For Minorities And Women In Private Industry 2007

Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), March 23, 2009

As part of its mandate under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires periodic reports from public and private employers, and unions and labor organizations which indicate the composition of their work forces by sex and by race/ethnic category. Key among these reports is the EEO-1, which is collected annually from Private employers with 100 or more employees or federal contractors with 50 more employees. In 2007, over 67,800 employers with more than 61.3 million employees filed EEO-1 reports.
See also:
Data for 2007

Women at Risk: Why Many Women Are Forgoing Needed Health Care

Source: Sheila D. Rustgi, Michelle M. Doty, and Sara R. Collins, Commonwealth Fund, Issue Brief, May 2009

From the press release:
Women are more likely than men to feel the pinch of rising health costs and eroding health benefits, with about half (52%) of working-age women reporting problems accessing needed care because of costs, compared to 39 percent of men, a new Commonwealth Fund study finds. Women who are insured but have inadequate coverage are especially vulnerable: 69 percent of underinsured women have problems accessing care because of costs, compared to half (49%) of underinsured men.

The study, Women at Risk: Why Many Women Are Forgoing Needed Health Care, by Commonwealth Fund researchers Sheila Rustgi, Michelle Doty, and Sara Collins finds that overall, seven of 10 working-age women, or an estimated 64 million women, have no health insurance coverage or inadequate coverage, medical bill or debt problems, or problems accessing needed health care because of cost.
See also: