Within the next year the Affordable Care Act will take a step towards health care equality by attempting to prohibit small-group insurers from charging women higher premiums than men for the same coverage. This prohibition of inequal premiums will not extend to Long-term-care insurance, however, with the county’s largest insurer, Genworth Financial, announcing that it will start setting premiums based on the sex of the insured later this spring.
Bonnie Burns, a policy specialist for the California Health Advocates stated that “Gender Pricing is good for insurance companies…but it’s bad public policy and bad for women.” Genworth Financial argues that the pricing reflects a statistic that women receive two of every three claims dollars, and that the new pricing will only affect new individual policies, which make up only 10% of purchasers. The new rates will not be applied to existing policy holders, or those who are married and have couples insurance with their husband. Financial experts in the insurance industry expect that Genworth Financial will not be the only long-term care provider enforcing such policies, and anticipate other providers will soon follow suit. Two states will be unaffected by the premium change, Colorado and Montana, who have prohibited such variations due to sex for insurance premiums.
To some the policy shifts come as no surprise, as women typically live longer than men and thus require more insurance payouts due to long term care. Advocates for insurance equality do not consider this to be a valid reason for increasing the premium. It is important for all concerned citizens to continue the fight for equality and speak out to our representatives and state governments to ensure that men and women are both treated fairly. We all must do our part to preserve our nation’s equality.
Source – Washington Post – “Long Term care insurance plans call for some women to pay more than men”, February 26, 2013, Michelle Andrews
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