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Lawsuit Filed Against Gender Rating in California

The city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against California State legislators Tuesday that charges that insurers who use the practice of gender rating are discriminating based on sex. Gender rating allows insurance companies to charge different premiums to women than to men. Earlier this month, San Francisco attorney Dennis Herrera notified California Attorney General Jerry Brown that the city would sue the state if legislation that allows gender rating in health insurance remained law.

California state Spokesman Daniel Ng told the LA Times that “the Department of Insurance implements the laws as passed by the Legislature. The Legislature explicitly lists gender as one of the factors to be considered. Until the Legislature changes the laws or the courts decide differently, we shall uphold the law.”

In a 2008 National Women’s Law Center Report (see PDF), the Center “found huge and arbitrary variations in each state and across the country in the difference in premiums charged to women and men.” The study found that a 40-year-old woman could pay up to 39% more for insurance than a man the same age in California.

Also on Tuesday, California Assembly member Dave Jones, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, introduced new legislation that would prohibit gender discrimination in by health insurance companies. Jones told the California Progress Report that “If higher rates for women keep them from being able to afford health care coverage, this can mean reduced access to health care and potentially result in poorer health status for women.”

Sources:

Feminist Daily News Wire 1/7/09; LA Times 1/28/09; California Progress Report 1/28/09

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