California Legislation Aims To Prohibit Health Insurers From Basing Premiums on Gender
California lawmakers are considering legislation (AB 119) that would prohibit insurers from taking a health insurance applicant's sex into account when setting premiums, a practice known as gender rating, the San Jose Mercury News reports. In January, the city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit that seeks to ban disparate health care rates for men and women, but the suit has been put on hold pending the outcome of the legislation.
A Mercury News analysis indicated that women's premiums can be at least 7% higher than men's premiums for some private health plans, although the analysis found that men were quoted higher premiums for some coverage. The analysis was based on a review of rates for the 10 most popular health plans available through ehealthinsurance.com. Insurance companies say that their rates are based on actuarial studies, noting that women, particularly younger women, typically seek more preventive care than men, resulting in higher costs.
Lawmakers also are considering a bill (AB 98) that would require health plans to cover maternity services (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 4/18).