Reps. Garland & Antonio Fight to Protect Women from Gender Discrimination

State Reps. Nancy Garland (D- Columbus), Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Nickie J. Antonio (D- Lakewood) held a press conference in coordination with Innovation Ohio to discuss gender discrimination by health insurance companies, and introduce HB 551 to prohibit so called “gender rating.”

Currently, health insurance companies determine premiums based on a variety of factors, one of which is the gender of the policy holder. Women are consistently charged significantly higher rates than men, even when factoring out maternity coverage.  The legislation introduced today would eliminate gender discrimination in healthcare premiums. Ohio’s women would no longer have to unfairly pay more for equal coverage.

“Women deserve to be treated equally to men, and this legislation will make that possibility closer to a reality,” Rep. Garland stated. “Ohio’s women cannot be forced to pay higher insurance premiums any longer. Not only does this put a financial strain on individuals, but on small businesses that are owned by or employ women. This injustice must end.”

Innovation Ohio released a report today that shows the disparity between men and women for insurance premiums in Ohio. According to their report, a typical 40-year old Ohio woman buying an individual policy pays anywhere from 20 to 50 percent more than a 40-year old male and 60 percent of insurance plans sold in Ohio charge non-smoking women higher premiums than male smokers.  The difference in insurance premiums varies so greatly, there is not a clear justification of the premium differences.

“The status of being a woman should not be a pre-existing condition,” said Rep. Antonio. “Ending ‘gender rating’ by health insurance providers is another step towards equality. By continuing practices like this we are implicitly tolerating discrimination and hurting families in which women are often the health care decision makers in households around the state.”

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