Herrera Testifies for Bill to End Health Insurance ‘Gender Rating’ in California

Discriminatory Pricing Scheme That Costs Women Up To 39% More for Coverage is Being Challenged by City Attorney

SACRAMENTO (March 31, 2009 — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today testified before the California State Assembly’s Health Committee in support of legislation that would prohibit health plans and insurers from charging a premium or price differential for because of the sex of the prospective policyholder — a discriminatory practice known as “gender rating.” The bill could represent a legislative fix that obviates a legal action Herrera initiated last December, when he notified state officials of his plans to challenge the legality of the practice for violating women’s right to equal protection under the California Constitution.

The bill by Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), AB 119, parallels legislation in the State Senate introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), for which Herrera serves as a sponsor. Leno’s bill, SB 54, will be heard before the State Senate Health Committee tomorrow.

“California has long been a leader in opposing discrimination — whether it’s based on race, sexual orientation, or gender. It’s time to end discrimination against women in health insurance,” said Herrera. “Like the ten states that currently prohibit gender rating, California’s health insurance industry can exist and thrive without these discriminatory practices.”

Herrera’s litigation and the legislation by Jones and Leno apply to individual health care service plans and policies; employer-sponsored plans are already prohibited from charging men different premiums than women in California. A report by the National Women’s Law Center issued last September found that California women under the age of 55 pay up to 39 percent more for insurance as individuals than men. The study, entitled “Nowhere to Turn; How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women,” looked at insurance coverage for women at ages 25, 40 and 55.

A copy of City Attorney Herrera’s prepared testimony is available on the City Attorney’s Web site at the following URL: