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.

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.

Many Insurance Companies Don’t Provide Maternity Coverage, Calling Pregnancy A “Matter Of Choice” And C-Sections A “Pre-Existing Condition.”

Today, Insurance Companies Are Free To Deny Coverage To Victims Of Domestic Violence.

  • 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


Kyrie F.
Kyrie F.4 years ago

Okay, because MY DAD'S X SPERM CELL met with my mother's egg cell, my insurance should be more. Okay, I didn't chose to be a woman but that is what nature made me. There is actually more chance of a X sperm cell meeting the egg than the Y. 51 to 49% but still, when you are talking millions of sperm cells, that adds up. This is just stupid and total discrimination. We fought against racial, time to end sex based.

Abo Ahmed r.
Abo r7 years ago

Health is for all.
Companies must not decied it is not Dr.

Jim Phillips
Jim P8 years ago

Women are NOT second class citizens.

Carole D.
Carole Dunn8 years ago

I think all women should wear a tight girdle and keep their legs crossed until all discrimination against females is ended worldwide. Maybe that will wake the men up. As far as women who believe in discrimination against their fellow women, there is no hope for them. Since they are mainly the conservative Republican bottle blondes we should make it illegal for them to buy bleach. That'll show 'em.

Elaine U.
Elaine U8 years ago

Well if being pregnant is a matter of choice--I suppose the insurance co's will then decide an awful lot of other health conditions are a matter of choice too, and refuse to cover them, or charge huge fees for covering them. Say if you are obese, many would say that's a choice because presumably you ate the wrong food. If you have hardening of the arteries, they might decide not to cover that because you ate too much meat. If you're diabetic maybe they would say it was because you eat too many sweets (which is what I was always told as a kid). How about the medical conditions that all the heavy drinkers have---isn't that a choice? I believe if we don't put a stop on these companies they will do this and more. Probably better thought out excuses for not covering something than my examples but still, you get my point I'm sure.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M8 years ago

Of course insurance should cover pregnancy and of course they should cover injuries to abused individuals (male or female). It is ridiculous to think that you can be covered if you are beaten up by a stranger on the street but not if you are assaulted by a person in your own household. I don't follow the logic. It is stretching the meaning of a phrase 'pre-existing condition' to the breaking point (a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common these days)

However, I do not find the same substance in the argument about discrimination between premiums for men and women. This is a tried & true practice that is an integral part of the insurance industry. Teenagers are charged more for car insurance than adults because they are a greater risk, men are charged more for life insurance than women because, on the whole, women live longer than men. Premiums are generally based on actuarial tables that assess risk for different groups. It is not an unreasonable premise. If there is some additional discriminatory practice involved, that is a different story but otherwise, I would have to say that it is a justifiable practice.

If you want to argue something, the better cause would be the continued disparity in pay rates for men and women who are doing the same work.

All-in-all, this, like most of the Care2 articles I've read is very good & thought provoking.

Reagan B.
Reg B8 years ago

The model for Universal Health care does cover everyone and living in Canada I have NEVER seen a bill for any type of medical care.

However... I pay 37% in federal and 10% in Provincial Income tax. That is almost 1/2 of what I earn. It really is a Socialist model and I dont think the vast majority of Americans would swallow these types of tax increases to pay for the universal coverage.

Private or public. Hidden cost, (taxes) or open cost, (wallet), you pay either way.

P H.
P H8 years ago

Steven A,

I totally agree with you, insurance is not health care and is not the model we should have to deliver universal health care to all American citizens. The model only benefits the insurance companies

Car insurance companies regularly charge more when you own certain types of cars that have been in a higher number of accident, even if you have never been in an accident

Insurance companies regularly discriminate because it allows them to keep more of your money for themselves and reduce their costs for "coverage"

All Americans need to wake up and demand a new model We want universal health care and we already have a model that works, medicare.

There are two Representatives working to bring universal health care to all Americans, Rep Weiner and Rep Kucinich. Both have amendments to HR 3200.

The Weiner amendment would make medicare available to all citizens.

The Kucinich amendment mandates a single payer state will receive the right to waive the application of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which has in the past been used to nullify efforts to expand state or local government health care.

Under the Kucinich Amendment a state's application for a waiver from ERISA is granted automatically if the state has signed into law a single payer plan. With the amendment, for the first time, the state single payer health care option is shielded from an ERISA-based legal attack.

Universal health care not insurance!

Lynda T.
Lynda T8 years ago

Insurance companies make me sick. How do they come up with all this crazy stuff? It is wonderful we have this site to make us aware of all the injustices that we would never be aware of. This the year 2009 not the dark ages. When are we going to start treating women like first class citizens? I think we as women are going to have to organize again and start standing up for our rights.

Kimberly S.
Kimberly Smith8 years ago

As someone who worked 25years before becoming ill and have NO idea the things you will have to fight for and will be denied if you ever find yourself ill and depending on the Medicare program.All the years I worked I thought I was doing the right thing,the right way to teach my kids you work for what you get.Now,I fight to get my medicines,have enough money to eat all month,etc.Did you know your social security amount has nothing to do with the years you worked.They set your monthly amount on the last quarter(ex.) and thats usually when you've been sick and haven't worked much so you get lots less money a month than you had actually been earning!I've also been told and denied help because they say I worked all my life and they help those who lived off the system all their lives.Guess I shoul've drawn welfare instead of working 2 jobs all those years!