By John Ballard
My friend Maggie Mahar has put together a powerful summary of what can happen in the aftermath if any of several attempts to maim or kill health care reform hit the target. The provisions of ACA, however imperfect that benighted piece of legislation may be, still represent a great leap forward for women's care via the insurance market.
In 36 states, �92 percent of best-selling plans charge 40-year-old women more than 40-year-old men,� the Center reports, and �only 3 percent of these plans cover maternity services � One plan in South Dakota charges a woman $1252.80 more a year than a 40-year-old man for the same coverage.�
Today, less than half of American women can obtain affordable insurance through a job, which explains why millions buy their own insurance in the individual market. In that market, just 14 states ban gender rating: California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
Pricing based on gender also plagues the small group market, where insurers frequently jack up premiums if a small or mid-size business employs too many women. This means that many of these employers just can not afford to offer insurance. Only 17 states address the problem.
...if a woman lives in North Carolina, Oklahoma, North Dakota, or Mississippi, and has been the victim of domestic violence, it is perfectly legal for a company to refuse to sell her a policy.
In 45 states, insurers can reject her because she has had a C-section � even if it was medically mandated.
Insurers see �Caesareans or beatings as pre-existing conditions that are likely to be predictors of higher expenses in the future,� the New York Times explains, pointing to Peggy Robertson, a 41-year-old Colorado mother who was denied insurance in 2007. A broker advised the Robertson�s to switch their insurance to Golden Rule (owned by United HealthCare), where they would get a better rate. But when they applied, the company spotted a C-section on Robertson�s record, and sent her a letter, explaining that if she wanted insurance she would have to be sterilized.
Go read the whole thing. Mark it for later reading if your time is limited, but take the time to read carefully and pay attention. This is very important content, not to be scanned and forgotten.
(And pay attention to navigation. There are four pages to this article and I don't find a link to make it into a single page for easy reading. Readers will need to click each page separately,)