In our current health care system, women often face higher health costs than men and multiple other barriers to health insurance. Fewer women are eligible for employer-based coverage, and comprehensive coverage in the individual health care market is often unavailable or prohibitively expensive. In the individual insurance market, women face discrimination — being charged substantially higher premiums for the same coverage as men or being denied coverage for such “pre-existing conditions” as pregnancy, having had a C-section, or being a victim of domestic violence. In a recent study, more than half of women — compared with 39% of men — reported delaying needed medical care due to cost. And just last fall, the Joint Economic Committee released a report finding that since the recession began, American women have lost 1.6 million jobs — many seeing their health insurance disappear with their jobs — and over a million women have lost insurance because their husband lost his job.
At today’s meeting with President Obama at the Blair House, Chairwoman Louise Slaughter discussed the need for health insurance reform, particularly for women:
…All Americans should be treated the same. Let me give you a little history on that. Eight states in this country right now have declared that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition on the grounds, I assume, that if you have been unlucky enough to get yourself beaten up once, you might go around and do it again. 48% is the higher cost for women, in many cases, to buy their own insurance. Believe you me that is really discriminatory. In 1991, women were not included in any of the trials at the NIH because we had hormones. It wasn’t until we had a critical mass of women here that said this will not do for more than half the population of the United States who pay taxes and we made certain that diseases like osteoporosis, mainly a women's disease, and cervical cancer, only a women's disease, and uterine cancer and others were really looked at. Up to that point, 1991, all research at the Institutes of Health was done on white males. Now think about that for a minute, if you will. We couldn’t do that because we said, 'kindly, will you stop doing that?' It took legislation. Doing this will take legislation.
Women will continue to face discrimination in both coverage and cost if health reform fails. Our health insurance reform legislation is vital for women, making it illegal for insurance companies to use “gender rating” — charging women more than men for the same coverage — and makes it against the law for insurance companies to deny coverage or charge higher premiums on the basis of a “pre-existing condition”. Learn more about women and health insurance reform»