Another Area of Discrimination: Health Care

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I haven’t run into this problem with my health insurance, so I was appalled to read about some of the things that are happening to women who are trying to get health insurance. They include:

  1. Having to pay extra for maternity coverage, even if they’re not going to use it. (One woman had to prove that she had been sterilized.)
  2. Being refused coverage for pre-existing conditions that included having had a Cesarean or having been a victim of domestic violence.
  3. Being made to pay anywhere from 2% to 51% more for coverage than men in the same age group.

To show how bad it can get, the Republican nominee for New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, wants to allow insurers to drop coverage for mammograms. These stories of widespread discrimination are causing women to protest that “being a woman is not a pre-existing condition!”

Women eligible for employer insurance are protected by federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender. But states regulate the individual insurance market and most states do not protect women. And keep in mind that small businesses that do not offer employee health benefits tend to have larger proportions of female workers.

For detailed data, download the National Women’s Law Center’s 2009 report, Still Nowhere to Turn: Insurance Companies Treat Women Like a Pre-Existing Condition. [Also see the 2008 report, Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women.]

Other Sources: Kaiser Health News, McClatchy News, NWLC Facts & Figures.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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