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Bill equalizing health-coverage rates for men, women gets initial Senate OK
The Denver Post
Insurance companies couldn't charge women higher rates for health coverage than men in individual plans under a bill that received initial Senate approval Monday.
Supporters of the legislation say women often are charged as much as 40 percent more than men for individual health-insurance plans. Proponents said group plans and public health programs do not have different cost structures for men and women, but individual-market plans frequently do.
The bill would affect about 140,000 women, proponents said.
Insurance companies opposed to the bill have argued that coverage for women is costlier, often because of maternity care. But Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, one of the bill's Senate sponsors, said women who don't receive maternity care and those who are healthier than men still pay more.
She said premiums should be based on utilization of health care services, not gender.
Sen. Dave Schultheis, though, said the bill would unfairly shift the costs of covering women onto men.
"I see this as a discrimination against men," said Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs. "All of a sudden, we're pooling together the insurance for men and women."
And Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, and other Republicans said insurance companies discriminate against men when it comes to auto coverage. Why wasn't that addressed in the bill?
"Insurance companies have factual-based reasons for charging different rates," Mitchell said.
Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, offered an amendment that would have stopped the bill from taking effect until there was no gender discrimination in auto insurance, but later withdrew it. He said he offered the amendment just to make a point.
The bill received first-round approval on a voice vote, and the Senate must consider it once more before it can go back to the House for approval of Senate amendments.