NBC Calls for More Health Insurance Regulation

     In many cases, a woman’s individual health insurance policy costs more than a man’s – and that’s just not fair, according to the NBC “Nightly News.”


     A Nov. 11 report showed that women who hold individual policies can pay up to 140 percent more than men for health insurance because they can have a child, which makes them more likely use their health insurance. This priced-in premium is similar to the way young men are charged more for auto insurance than young women. But according to some women, the costs should be spread equally.


     “If you’re a woman looking for insurance, chances are you’re considering having a baby,” Amanda Doyle said to “Nightly News.” “Kids aren’t just the responsibility of a woman and so the costs shouldn’t just be born by a woman.”


     “The National Women’s Law Center, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, has just released a report finding women who need individual health insurance may be facing a surtax just when they need benefits the most,” said Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC chief medical editor. Snyderman criticized the lack of federal regulation that would prevent these market forces from dictating who gets charged what under a risk premium.


     “It’s called gender rating,” Synderman said. “And it can happen because there are no federal guidelines governing who pays what for health insurance in the individual market. In some cases, a woman can even be denied coverage if she’s the victim of domestic violence.”


     The segment featured NWLC president Judy Waxman claiming that “women are being charged more simply because they’re women.” But that’s not exactly true. Women are charged more because they tend to use more services.


     Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, explained that concept to Snyderman. “At younger ages, woman use more health care services and are prone to specific conditions,” she said.


     But Pisano added that the problem requires a more comprehensive approach to health care reform than just legislation to ban market-based pricing. “We think there are far too many men, women and children who are falling through the cracks and that we need a comprehensive plan to address that,” she said.


     AHIP opposes a government-run system like the one President-elect Barack Obama proposed during the presidential campaign.