(CNSNews.com) – In an appeal to shore up women voters and support for the health care law, the White House and President Barack Obama have accused health insurance companies of charging women more for insurance “because they’re women.”
The White House Web site said the health care law will prevent insurance companies from “discriminating against women” and charging higher premiums to women, “simply because of their gender.”
Health insurance companies base premiums on projected costs not discrimination, said American Health Insurance Plans spokesman Robert Zirkelbach. Further, he said, the only time there is a cost difference between genders is among those who buy individual policies, while those covered through their employers pays the same.
The provision of the health care law requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions would change this practice of charging more, according to the White House.
Obama said on April 6 at a White House Forum on Women and the Economy. “And soon, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions like breast cancer, or charge women more just because they’re women.”
Again on April 27, at a campaign event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, Obama repeated the line.
“Soon, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions like breast cancer, or charge women more just because they’re women,” Obama said.
Marking National Women’s Health Week, last week the White House Web site, heralded the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
“For example, women who purchase health insurance on the individual market pay an additional $1 billion each year because insurance companies charge them more than men, simply because of their gender,” wrote Megan Slack, associate director of digital content for the White House Office of Digital Strategy.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against women by charging higher premiums,” Slack added.
Zirkelbach, spokesman for American Health Insurance Plans explained premiums are set based on expected health care costs. As men and women age, the trend reverses.
“Men and women use different health care services and have different health care costs,” Zirkelbach told CNSNews.com. “That changes depending on a person’s age. Younger ages, women use more health care services than men. That is reflected in their health insurance premiums. As men and women get older, that trend actually reverses itself. At older ages, men have higher costs, and therefore higher premiums then women.”
He said health insurance was “just like auto insurance and life insurance, premiums vary between men and women and the individual.”
Further, he said, very few people purchase their own individual health insurance, but rather, are covered through their employer.
“The vast majority of people get their health care coverage through their employer. Employer coverage, all employees are guaranteed coverage,” Zirkelbach continued. “They’re not paying more because of their health status or their gender. So we are only talking about a small number of people purchasing health care on their own.”