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Colorado Bans Gender Rating in Health Insurance

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a law yesterday that will prohibit health insurance companies from charging men and women different rates on the same policies, a practice known as gender rating. With the signing of HB 1008, Colorado became the 13th state to ban gender rating, a practice that the historic federal health reform bill signed by President Obama last week will phase out by 2014. Two reports by the National Women’s Law Center, Nowhere to Turn (see pdf) and Still Nowhere to Turn (see pdf), show that in Denver, Colorado, seven of the ten best-selling health insurance plans charged 30-year-old non-smoking women up to 48 percent higher premiums than 30-year-old male smokers. This disparity cannot be explained by maternity-related costs because not one of the plans included maternity coverage. The New York Times reports that as he signed the bill on the steps of the state capitol, Governor Ritter said “This bill ensures access to care and coverage for all at an equitable price and eliminates the financial burden that gender rating puts on women.” State Representative Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), one of the sponsors of the bill, spoke at the signing and said, “It’s past time that women were not considered in the private individual insurance market as a pre-existing condition,” reports the Denver Business Journal.

Sources:

National Women's Law Center: Nowhere to Turn; National Women's Law Center: Still Nowhere to Turn; New York Times 3/29/10; Denver Business Journal 3/29/10