Being a woman is no longer a pre existing condition

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Our Healthcare Expert, Reagan Gray, answers your questions about the state of the healthcare industry today!

"My health insurance premiums have always been more than my husband's, and we’re the same age, 40. Why is this the case and will the new healthcare reform change this in any way?"

from viewer Lara in Glendale, CA

Hi Lara and thanks for this great question. For years, insurance companies have been able to charge higher insurance premiums to women; anywhere from 4% to 45% more for women. Surprised? You should be. For years, women have shouldered higher premiums just for being women.

The basic logic was women use more services than men, and therefore should pay more in premiums. But, in actuality, data shows that women go to the doctor more often for preventive services, which in the long run, is much more cost-effective for insurance companies. And, by the way, we are the ones that have the babies, so of course we use more services!

While federal law presently exists that prohibits companies with more than 15 employees from charging more for women, individual plans still use gender as a basis for establishing a premium. Doesn’t sound too fair does it? Well frankly, it isn’t fair and the new health reform bill will finally make that arcane practice of gender rating illegal. Further, it will be completely outlawed by 2014, and, I’m happy to report, many states and insurance companies are changing their policies now. So, if you’re not a part of an employer plan, and looking to buy health insurance, be sure to ask what your premium is based on. It better not be gender.

Source: Dept of Health and Human Services, May 2010

ABOUT OUR EXPERT

Since 1980, Reagan Gray has been involved in the healthcare industry, working for hospital organizations, and a variety of managed care companies. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from George Washington University, Washington, DC, where her experience in healthcare marketing began. She took advantage of what the nation s capitol had to offer and followed legislation through the sub-committee on health, as well as completing an internship with the Department of Health and Human Services. For most of her career, however, Reagan has owned her own communications firm in southern California specializing in healthcare. She has worked for over 100 healthcare organizations where she developed and implemented several marketing, branding and advertising programs. She has seen the healthcare industry evolve and grow into the complex industry it is today.

A native Californian, Reagan grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. A few years ago, Reagan moved to Boston, one of the most innovative and progressive healthcare communities in the US. Her communications firm, Gray & Partners provides branding and social and new media consultation for the healthcare industry.

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