With the threat of a government health plan looming, health insurance companies have offered to decrease rates for millions of women. They have also accepted tight federal regulation of their industry.
About 5.7 million women are now affected by higher premiums. Many of these women are self-employed who have to buy their own coverage.
The industry is trying to ward off the creation of a government health plan that would compete with them when it comes to enrolling middle-class workers and their families. Many Democrats and President Obama desire this plan, but the insurance companies are afraid that it would ruin their business. Employer groups are also worried, because they are concered about a public plan enticing young workers with lower premiums.
Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, is asking people to trust government. She told this to a Senate panel that is working on legislation in renovating the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care system.
Instead of accepting a government plan, the insurers are offering to accept a series of consumer protections they feel would make a better marketplace and slash into the ranks of the 50 million uninsured.
Finance Committee leaders want the bill to be presented to the Senate floor this summer. The expansive outlines will go along with Obama’s campaign proposal, which mounts on the present system of shared responsibility among employers, government and individuals.
Employer plans cover most Americans. These plans are not allowed to charge higher premiums due to gender, poor health or similar elements. There is only about 9 percent that have to purchase their own health insurance. This small group is where women are confronted with elevated rates. This is due to health care costs that are inclined to increase during childbearing years. Unfortunately, some policies don’t cover maternity care.
Senator John Kerry, D-Mass, claims that these type of practices are discriminatory. He said, “The disparity between women and men in the individual marketplace is just plain wrong and it has to change.” Ignagni agreed and said that gender should not be a factor in rating.
Bringing premiums down for women doesn’t automatically mean that men will have to pay more. There are many components that are considered when setting rates, such as age, which has much more relevance than gender.