IO: Stop Sex Discrimination in Health Insurance

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2012
Contact:  Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: Stop Sex Discrimination in Health Insurance

Think Tank Report Says “Gender Ratings” Force Women to Pay More Than Men

Columbus: Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Ohio, released a new report today as part of its new Ohio Women’s Watch initiative. The report finds that due to so-called “gender ratings” by insurance companies, Ohio women pay significantly higher health insurance premiums than men, “simply because they are female.”

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will prohibit gender ratings as of January 1, 2014, IO said “Ohio women shouldn’t have to wait,” and called on Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to “follow the lead of more than a dozen other states and ban the discriminatory practice now.” The think tank also suggested that insurance companies themselves could “voluntarily do the right thing and agree to discontinue the practice on their own.”

The Report, “Insurance, Gender Ratings and Sex Discrimination,” was done in collaboration with the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. The report can be viewed at www.innovationohio.org/fairratesnow

Among the Report’s principal findings are:

  • A typical 40-year old Ohio woman buying an individual policy pays anywhere from 20 to 50% more than a 40-year old male.
  • 60% of insurance plans sold in Ohio charge non-smoking women higher premiums than male smokers.
  • Gender rating mark-ups vary widely between plans calling into question the actuarial justification for rate increases for women.
  • In addition to driving up costs for individual policy-holders, gender ratings increase group insurance costs for many small businesses, particularly those employing large numbers of women.
  • 14 states have banned or limited gender rating in the individual insurance market, while 17 have done so for the group insurance market.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“It is ridiculous and intolerable that Ohio women continue to pay more for health insurance simply because they are women.  It is blatant discrimination and imposes a hidden tax on many small business ‘job creators.’  Gender ratings should end, and end now.

“Gov. Kasich and those who control the legislature never tire of telling us how much they favor equality for women.  They now have a golden opportunity to prove it.  14 other states have already banned or limited gender ratings in the individual policy market, and 17 states have done so for group insurance policies.

So where do our elected officials stand?  Do they stand with the insurance companies or do they stand with the women of Ohio?”

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