KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hearings Focus On Health Insurance Gender Discrimination, The Underinsured

During a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, several women shared stories of gender discrimination in health care coverage.

McClatchy: "[M]any women had examples of individual policies that require women to pay more than men in some states, including Idaho, where insurers who issue individual policies can use age, sex, geography and whether a client smokes as factors in determining premiums. Some women attended the hearing wearing T-shirts that said, 'I am not a pre-existing condition.'" Peggy Robertson, a woman from Colorado, for example, explained that she had been denied coverage "because she'd already given birth via cesarean," which the insurer considered a pre-existing condition. The company "wouldn't insure her unless she could prove she'd been sterilized." McClatchy adds that "[i]n an effort to get American women on board with the health care overhaul, Democratic women in the Senate have been highlighting their own health care stories and those of their constituents" (Bolstad, 10/15).

ABC News: "Committee members were shocked by Robertson's story. 'That gave me goose bumps,' Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said about the notion of sterilization. 'That phrase, that concept, I found that bone chilling. No one in the United States in order to get health insurance should ever, ever be coerced into getting sterilization'" (Parkinson, 10/15). 

The Dallas Morning News reports on another House hearing, this one focusing on the underinsured - those people whose health insurance is inadequate to cover their medical needs. "With Democrats already annoyed at the insurance industry over its opposition to health care legislation, a House subcommittee heard Thursday from a Garland [Texas] father and others about the perils of confusing policies that left them with uninsured catastrophes" (Landers, 10/16).

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