Study: Health Insurers Charge Idaho Women Hundreds More Than Men

Mar 27, 2012

A nationwide study says Idaho has one of the widest gaps between how much money insurers charge women and men. The survey by the National Women’s Law Center found Idaho women pay around $700 more each year.

The National Women’s Law Center reviewed the rates of the best-selling insurers in states that allow a practice known as “gender rating.” The Center found that in Idaho a 40-year-old non-smoking woman is typically offered a rate 40 percent higher than any man her age. That’s even when comparing plans that don’t cover maternity care.

But Karen Early says there’s a good reason for the gender bias. She’s a spokeswoman for the state’s largest insurer, Blue Cross of Idaho.

“Women tend to use more health services than men do. And because they use more health services, the cost for providing them insurance is higher," Early says. "Conversely , women who seek auto insurance tend to pay less because they tend to be more careful drivers. And women’s life insurance is lower because they tend to live longer.”

Oregon and Washington have banned gender rating in health insurance -- and the Affordable Care Act prohibits the practice nationwide starting in 2014. That’s if the law remains in place.

Idaho is one of 26 states now challenging the act. The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the case this week.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network