The City of San Francisco’s Attorney General has filed suit against state health insurance regulators because of the current regulations’ discriminatory effects on women. The suit contends that insurance commissioner Steve Poizner and director of the Department of Managed Health Care, Cindy Ehnes, approved a system that allows insurance companies to impose “gender rating” when pricing policies. This system affects women who are seeking individual health care polices. Under current regulations, women are paying as much as 39% more for the same exact coverage as men, coverage that excludes costs related to pregnancy.
Currently, ten states outlaw “gender rating” health insurance rates for individual coverage, but not California. Since December, two bills have been introduced in the state legislature which aim to remedy the situation. However, until the law in California changes, lawsuits like this will be the only means to end discrimination in health insurance.
Other states in the United States are dealing with the same issues regarding women’s health insurance discrimination. The National Women’s Law Center published a report, Nowhere to Turn (PDF), detailing the many problems women encounter when dealing with current health insurance policies. The situation, which we previously blogged about here, is exacerbated by the continuing economic downturn. As more and more women are having trouble paying for their health insurance, the fact that they already pay more than men does not help.