KOHL: HEALTH REFORM WILL STOP INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM DISCRIMINATING AGAINST WOMEN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, released the following statement on the positive changes health care reform will make for women:
"My colleagues and I are pursuing health care reform this year for many reasons. Most of us agree that reforming our health care system is a necessity, and we cannot afford to wait another ten or twenty years until health care costs consume an even greater percentage of the economy and the budgets of American families.
"We are also pursuing health reform because when we take a look around at other industrialized countries, we know our health care outcomes could be improved. Studies show that the U.S. ranks below average on major health indicators, including infant mortality and life expectancy, when compared to the rest of the world. We currently rank 44th in infant mortality and 30th in life expectancy.
"Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are pursuing reform of our health care system to right some wrongs, and put an end to discriminatory practices that bar millions of Americans from obtaining coverage. Insurance companies should not be allowed to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies should not be allowed to cap coverage, or to drop a policyholder when they get sick and need it most.
"In particular, we must end the discriminatory practices that result in a disproportionately high rate of uninsured women in America. There are a variety of reasons that women, and often their children, are more likely to be without health care coverage, many of which stem from economic inequalities that still pervade our society. We must take this opportunity to make our health system work better for all Americans, regardless of whether they are a man or a woman.
"For instance, a majority of insurance companies currently charge women more than they charge men for the same policy-sometimes as much as one-and-a-half times as much. Health reform legislation in the Senate would put a stop to this. Many insurance policies in the individual market do not cover maternity care or do so at a much higher premium. This is preposterous as we are all-in the words of Shakespeare-of woman born. Health reform legislation in the Senate would require insurance companies to provide maternity coverage to those in the individual and small group markets.
"As a final, outlandish example, several states allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence by permitting them to consider this kind of criminal abuse a "pre-existing condition." This is despicable. Health reform legislation in the Senate would prohibit this practice.
"These discriminatory policies are shocking; they are unethical; and they are un-American. They should be illegal and we hope to make them so."
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For more information on why women are more likely to be uninsured and more vulnerable to the high costs associated with health care, please see this recent report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee: