A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Health Insurers Discriminating against Women – Not in MA!

Health Insurers Discriminating against Women – Not in MA!

November 4, 2008

A recent article in the New York Times (and a column in today’s Boston Globe) revealed new evidence that “women pay much more than men of the same age for individual [health] insurance policies providing identical coverage.” According to a study by the National Women’s Law Center, in Columbus, Ohio, for example, a 30-year-old woman pays 49 percent more than a man of the same age for Anthem’s Blue Access Economy plan.

Lucky for Massachusetts residents, state law requires health insurers to provide coverage to all applicants and limits the factors on which health insurers can base premiums. Factors such as gender, health status, claims history and family history have long been forbidden from affecting the cost of coverage. In the majority of other states where “insurers [are allowed to] charge higher premiums or deny coverage to people with health problems…adults often find it difficult or impossible to get affordable coverage in [the individual insurance] market.”

This is becoming a bigger issue nationwide as more and more people are shopping for individual health insurance policies because they have lost employer-sponsored insurance. “Without substantial changes in the individual market, Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center said, tax credits for the purchase of insurance will be worth less to women because they face higher premiums.”

Jean Leu
Policy Intern