Four Insurance Companies Accused of Widespread Sex Discrimination


On Thursday, attorneys for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed a series of complaints accusing four of the nation’s largest insurance companies of sex discrimination, in violation of the Affordable Care Act.

The complaints, believed to be the first of their kind, were filed with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Health and Human Services. They allege that Genworth Financial, John Hancock, Transamerica, and Mutual of Omaha are improperly “gender rating” long-term insurance policies by charging women more than men for the same coverage. Long-term care insurance policies differ from traditional health insurance policies by reimbursing policyholders a set amount, often calculated daily and up to a pre-set limit, for services to assist them with day-to-day living activities. Long-term care policies were created to fill the gap in significant expenses related to aging, like personal attendant care.

Normally long-term care policies are priced based on a variety of factors, including the age of the person purchasing the policy and the limits of the policy itself. But, according to the complaints, these companies also considered an applicant’s sex, charging more for policies written for women. That practice, the NWLC claims, violates the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination rule. That rule prevents insurance companies from discriminating in terms of coverage on a number of factors, including a person’s sex, race, age, national origin, and gender identity. “By gender rating their long-term care insurance policies, these companies are charging women 20 to 40 percent more than men for the same product,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger in a statement. “Requiring women to pay higher prices just because they are women is wrong, unfair and, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, is now illegal sex discrimination.”

Long-term care policies have become more popular as the Baby Boom generation enters retirement. According to the NWLC, as of 2010, between seven million and nine million Americans had long-term care insurance policies, and approximately 57 percent of those policyholders were women. The health-care law “has already made great strides in improving women’s health care and combating sex discrimination,” Greenberger said. “The Center is calling on OCR to take all necessary steps to investigate these complaints and ensure that women are not overcharged in the long-term care insurance market.”

According to the NWLC, the scope of the discrimination reaches nationwide, in part because encouraging long-term care coverage is a goal in the Affordable Care Act. Each company named in the complaint participates in long-term care partnerships in states across the country. These partnerships are joint efforts among federal and state Medicaid programs, state agencies, and private long-term care insurers that encourage individuals to purchase approved long-term care insurance policies. So far, 45 states have or are planning to establish such long-term care partnerships.

The fact that states operate in partnership with these companies means these states are complicit in the sex discrimination, the NWLC explains. In addition to the complaints against the insurance companies, the NWLC also filed complaints against state government agencies operating these partnerships in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington. According to the NWLC, these states were chosen because they illustrate that the problem reaches every corner of the country. “Women already have a hard enough time making ends meet, earning only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men,” said NWLC Vice-President and General Counsel Emily Martin in a statement. “With lower wages to begin with, women simply can’t afford to pay 20 to 40 percent more than men for the same long-term care insurance.”

The complaints request that the companies be banned from participating in these programs unless they stop discriminating.

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  • Linda Maxwell

    This is very silly. Insurance companies base premiums on RISK. Just like female rates for LIFE insurance lost LESS than men because women live longer, women most more for long term care insurance since they go on claim more and are a bigger risk.
    Young men pay more for auto then women. WHY, they are a BIGGER risk. With long term care insurance, when couples apply it basically evens out with partners discounts, etc. But single women do pay more … the facts support the reason.
    Why do we always ask the government or courts to get involved in things that they have no business being involved in? If anyone was able to show that an insurance company was charging more “just because” of gender or partner status then I would agree. This is NOT the case so this group should just go away and find something real to complain about.

    • RonPaul2012

      And blacks should be charged even more because they get sickle cell anemia. And so should gays cuz all the buttsex leads to aids right??

    • RonPaul2012

      You wouldn’t happen to be a paid troll for the insurance industry would you?

    • colleen2

      The insurance industry so corrupt and venal that every state has an special elected position called an Insurance Commissioner whose job it is to regulate and oversee the insurance industry Republicans and ‘centrist’ Democrats make HORRIBLE insurance commissioners because they tend to help the industry gouge and cheat their customers rather than protect the consumer.
      That said, Linda, you are clearly a Republican women and thus tend to be a subservient doormat. Those of us who are not recognize that this form of open discrimination and gouging is not allowed in decent states. We ask the government and the courts to get involved because we recognize discrimination, graft and corruption when we see it. Oh, and the agreement of Republican women is never necessary. Voting Republican is a character flaw.

      • RonPaul2012

        All Linda does is talk about insurance. Look at it’s history. It’s also what looks like a stock photo. Paid concern troll on behalf of the insurance industry.

        • Linda Maxwell

          no, I am a political consultant. I do have friends in the insurance industry, including my brother. So I don’t think big business is evil, I think global warming is bogus, I don’t think government should be involved in every part of our life, I think government spending should be lowered and taxes deduced in order to promote economic growth.

          • Defamate

            yeah? is that why your fake photo is gone along with your fake fb page?

          • colleen2

            You’re a political consultant for the GOP. And that is far worse than a character flaw.

      • Linda Maxwell

        really, voting Republican is a character flaw? Go take a few classes and understand how insurance .. or ANY business conducts business, promotes growth and creates jobs.

        • colleen2

          I’ve sold insurance you pathetic twit.

          • Linda Maxwell

            Now you are calling me a “twit” really??

    • Jennifer Starr

      Flagging you because you’re clearly not a real person–just a shill for LTC Global.

      • Linda Maxwell

        You think because I disagree with you I must not be real? Really? I respect your right to disagree with me but you might want to use common sense. If an insurance company has higher risk why should they not charge more? Do you think that since insurance companies charge MEN more for life insurance or auto insurance and women less that would be wrong as well?
        Actuaries base these things on science … nothing else.

  • Jennifer Starr

    Oh a Linda sockpuppet. Fun.

    • Defamate

      Your reply to me at the bottom of the page is under moderation for some reason?

      • Jennifer Starr

        It was temporarily because I forgot to put the dot in the link.

        • Defamate

          test…

          http://www.alternet.org/comments/activism/opposition-builds-against-anti-abortion-rallies-planned-major-cities#disqus_thread

          Weird.

          Some stuff goes into moderation..other doesn’t

          And when I refreshed, your comment was still under moderation

          Perhaps Disqus is acting up

          • Jennifer Starr

            It’s disappeared for me–but the fact remains, Linda Maxwell is not an actual person–she’s a front, probably for someone who works for a company called LTC Global who is 56 years old. And that photo is a stock photo.

          • Defamate

            Yep. I flagged the comments. They should be deleted. RHRC is not the place for paid trolls to hawk their lies.

          • Linda Maxwell

            that is funny if you think that anyone who disagrees with you is a paid hack. Wow

          • Defamate

            Then why the mysterious removal of your fake fb page and your fake stock photo sweetie?

          • Linda Maxwell

            Because someone reported that I was fake … it will be back up. If you really believe in your political thoughts then they should stand up to other opinions and shut down.

          • Defamate

            The FB account…yeah. Loooks like a real person..but with a stock photo!

            The FB account was probably created, and the person uses that ‘persona’ to go trolling..

            http://www.policymic.com/articles/69139/fox-news-paid-staffers-to-troll-the-hell-out-of-the-interwebs-according-to-new-book

  • Defamate

    Flagging you because you’re clearly not a real person–just a shill for LTC Global too.

    • Steven

      While I am familiar with LTC Global, and know several intelligent and caring people that work for LTC Global (I do not know Linda), I personally am not a shill for them. They are more of my competition. Yes, I am a real person. Interesting being accused of not being real. That is a first for me.
      So what exactly is your stance on this? Do you believe the insurance companies are charging women more b/c they don’t like them? These same companies charge men more for life insurance. How do you explain that? Or is your stance simply one that believes that gender rating does not belong in insurance regardless of the type of insurance? I can respect that stance.
      I think insurance companies should have the right to use actuarial info from past experience involving male or female in their pricing of their products. If you disagree, fine. However, there are consequences. If you are a male, ltci will become more expensive to purchase. If you are a female, life insurance will become more expensive. And so on…
      I have know problem having a conversation about this. That is if you can accept that I am real. How would I go about proving that?

  • Steven

    Unbelievable. Post a comment on my view and it gets removed. Why? I didn’t call someone a troll, or flawed, or a pathetic twit. Those comments are ok but trying to have a conversation about the issues is not. No one ever answered my questions, simply flagged my comments. I did not realize you had to act like an intolerant bully and claim someone isn’t real just because they disagree with you. Are you kidding? Why is it not acceptable for someone to have a differing opinion? You claim the insurance companies are discriminating, how are you different?
    I’m not a paid troll for an insurance company. Yes, I am a real person. And yes, I think the insurance companies should be allowed to price based on gender b/c the risks are different. However, if the ACA makes that illegal then they shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the partnership programs. Now someone please explain why that is soooo horrible.

    • Defamate

      Perhaps insurance companies should also be allowed to price based on skin color and sexual orientation. All those things people can’t help, because that’s how they were born.

      • Steven

        Of course not. I agree with you. That would be absurd.
        The companies mentioned in this article do not charge ltci premiums based on race or sexual orientation. As an example they give the same couples discounts to all couples regardless of sexual orientation. This simply points to the charging of different rates based on gender the result of decades of claims data and not some evil conspiracy against females.
        Again, if it is in fact against the law then it should not be allowed. It also isn’t a big deal for the companies to go back to non gender specific rates as this is a recent development. However, let’s not be so quick to pass judgment and assume this is an example of true “just because they are women” discrimination. We should at least try to understand why the companies are charging different premiums and what the law says about it.