Senate health care bill includes (mostly) good reforms for women

With one exception, the newly-introduced Senate health care bill(pdf) would provide the three major gender reforms advocated for by groups such as The National Women’s Law Center.

Here’s the one exception:  the bill would not eliminate gender rating for employer plans when the employee group includes more than 100 people, according to Lisa Codispoti, senior counsel at The National Women’s Law Center. That means that large employers who tend to employ young women—schools or health-care facilities, for example—could expect to pay higher premiums than those who tend to employ men.

(flickr, cc; Cambodia4kidsorg)

(flickr, cc; Cambodia4kidsorg)

The bill does, however, allow states to individually decide to let large employers into the insurance exchange, where gender rating would not be allowed. The Senate bill also bans gender rating on the individual market and for groups under 100.

Gender rating is the practice of charging premiums based on gender—and it usually results in women paying higher premiums than men. For example, on Colorado’s individual health insurance market, where the practice is allowed, women pay up to 60 percent more for coverage than men.

The Senate bill would also require health insurance companies to offer maternity in their plans on the individual market. Women covered under employer plans are already given mandatory maternity coverage, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Codispoti also believed the Senate bill would ban the practice of raising rates or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Codispoti said the National Women’s Law Center is still reviewing the Senate bill.

“The Senate bill is a little more complicated in some of those provisions and how they apply than the House bill,” she explained.

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Katie Redding

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