Being A Woman Is Not A Pre-Existing Condition
“It’s shocking to think that, in today’s America, over half of this country could be discriminated against.” –Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
We all know by now that American insurance companies discriminate against sick people, deny care for ridiculous reasons, spend an inordinate amount of their budgets on PR, lobbying, and administrative salaries, and keep raising premiums at rates that are making health insurance unaffordable for American families. But did you know that insurance companies regularly discriminate against women charging women more than men for the same care? Did you know that many insurers classify pregnancy and c-sections as pre-existing conditions, and in some cases, insurers even deny coverage to victims of domestic abuse?
Being a woman should not be a pre-existing condition!
It’s essential that any health care reform bill passed by congress eliminates the discriminatory practices outlined below. Please contact your senators and tell them you support reforms that will end discrimination against women.
- On Twitter, sign the Twitter petition.
Thanks to SEIU for providing the research below. And be sure to check out their post “Women and Insurance: Paying More, Getting Less:”
Today, Insurance Companies Charge Women 48% More Than Men For The Same Coverage On The Individual Market.
- According to a recent study, women pay up to 48% more in premiums than men.
- This discrepancy is due to an insurance industry practice known as “gender rating,” which permits insurance companies in most states to charge men and women different premiums for the same coverage.
- In all but 12 states, insurance companies are completely free to continue this practice
Many Insurance Companies Don’t Provide Maternity Coverage, Calling Pregnancy A “Matter Of Choice” And C-Sections A “Pre-Existing Condition.”
- A 2008 study found that just 12 percent of individual market plans include comprehensive maternity coverage.
- Defending the practice, one insurance official called pregnancy a “matter of choice.”
- In addition, many insurance companies consider C-Sections a “pre-existing condition,” while in Colorado, a subsidiary of United Health, one of the biggest insurance companies in the nation, “simply rejects” women who have had C-Sections.
Today, Insurance Companies Are Free To Deny Coverage To Victims Of Domestic Violence.
- In eight states and the District of Columbia, it is perfectly legal for insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence – and insurance companies are happy to take advantage of this loophole.
- Rationalizing this practice, one health care official infamously argued that covering a victim of domestic violence would be akin to covering “a smoker who doesn’t stop smoking.” [USA Today, 6/2/94]
- In 2006, ten Senate conservatives voted to kill a proposal that would have ensured coverage to victims of domestic violence. [Sens. Alexander, Burr, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Gregg, Hatch, Isakson, Roberts and Sessions; CQ Committee Coverage, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Markup, 3/15/06]
Here are some choice quotes from several female Democratic senators from Emily’s List:
In all but 12 states, insurance companies are allowed to charge women more than they charge men for coverage. The great irony here is that mothers, the people who care for us when we’re sick, are penalized under our current system.” –Sen. Kay Hagan (NC)
“For the women in these plans, or who are attempting to get insurance, no amount of money can buy maternity care that they need.” –Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
“Only 14 states in America require insurance companies to cover maternity care. Imagine, in a country that puts family values first, only 14 states.” –Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA)
“It’s time to end the insurance discrimination that women face.” –Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Photo courtesy of Women's International for Peace and Freedom