Health insurers agree to end gender bias

May 6, 2009 at 3:08 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- The president of a health insurance trade group testified in Washington the industry should to stop charging women higher premiums for healthcare.

The practice of charging women higher premiums for the same coverage "should be eliminated," Karen Ignagni, president of American's Health Insurance Plan, told members of the Senate Finance Committee, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said, "The disparity between woman and men in the individual insurance market is just plain wrong, and it has to change."

Kerry introduced a bill this week to end the practice, which sometimes results in women being charged up to 50 percent more than men for similar policies.

Previously, health insurance executives have said women age 19 to 55 were more likely than men to have higher healthcare costs due to childbearing, a proclivity toward certain chronic illnesses and more routine healthcare habits.

The industry agreed in March to curtail higher premiums for people who are sick. In November, insurers said they would comply with a federal mandate to insure sick and disabled customers if Congress passed a law requiring all citizens to carry health insurance, the newspaper said.

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