The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Gender Discrimination in CA Healthcare

Posted by brightcoast on August 28, 2009

I received the email below. I can’t say that I’m surprised, let’s face it, women this age are of childbearing age, meaning insurers may have to pay up for prenatal care, etc. Not only do they charge more, but pregnancy is also considered a pre-existing condition not subject to the normal rules for prior coverage. Good to know there’s a bill in the Senate.

Dear Brighcoast,

Should California women pay more for health insurance simply because of their gender? No! But, it’s happening. A recent study revealed that California women aged 18-54 are paying as much as 39% more than men for identical individual health plans.1 Next week, California Senators will have an opportunity to support AB119, a bill that would end this discriminatory practice. Tell your Senator to make healthcare coverage more equitable and affordable for women in California!

This practice of “gender rating” is prohibited by both federal and state law for group insurance plans, such as those provided by employers. But it is legal for insurance companies to charge men and women who buy individual plans or get coverage as part of a small business different rates. Ten states have already prohibited gender-based pricing of health insurance and continue to have strong health insurance markets, and we need to as well.2

This is significant because this “gender rating” practice affects many women who need to buy individual health coverage when they have lost their employer-based coverage after getting laid off during the economic downturn. Additionally, even many employed California women are seeking individual plans as employers reduce health coverage. In fact, California has one of the country’s lowest rates of employer-sponsored health coverage and employer-sponsored coverage has been declining for low-income families faster than for others.3,4 So coverage provided by the individual market is often the only option people have. Send an email to your California Senator now!

Thanks for standing up for equality and healthcare!

P.S. We are grateful to our colleagues at the National Women’s Law Center for their work on this important issue! Check out their website:

CITATIONS [1] National Women’s Law Center, “Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women,”

[2] Kaiser Family Foundation website,, statistics for 2006-2007, regarding health insurance statistics for all 50 states.

[3] Kaiser Family Foundation website,, statistics for 2006-2007, regarding health insurance statistics for all 50 states.

[4] Urban Institute, “Snapshots of America’s Families 3, Changes in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage,”


2 Responses to “Gender Discrimination in CA Healthcare”

  1. lloyd said

    Yeah don’t make women pay more. Make fat people pay more!

  2. I’d also like to add that in response to the argument that by charging the same price for both women and men, men are somehow subsidizing women’s coverage, in terms of maternity care which is easily the most obvious cost differential in care between the sexes (assuming other expensive charges, though possibly different, about equal out), it takes a man and a woman to make a baby…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: