Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, introduced AB 1553 on Tuesday, which would prohibit long-term care insurance providers from charging women higher premium rates than men for the same coverage.
“Gender discrimination has broad public policy implications,” Yamada said in a news release. “Women earn less than men in their lifetime and accumulate less wealth, so charging women more for the same policies is neither a fair nor effective solution to covering the industry’s costs. Pricing based on life expectancy sets an extremely dangerous precedent.”
Because women generally live longer than men, they depend on long-term care insurance benefits more and often reduce men’s dependence on such insurance by serving as their caregivers.
According to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, almost 70 percent of women age 75 or older are widowed, divorced or never married, leaving them less likely to have spouses to provide care for them and more likely to reside in assisted living and nursing facilities. Two out of three nursing home residents in California are women.
Long-term care insurance reimburses policyholders for long-term services and supports, including personal and custodial care, in a variety of settings such as in the home or at a skilled nursing facility. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from charging women higher premiums for health insurance policies, but long-term care insurance in California is classified as disability insurance, so it is not bound by that law.
“Women have always had a hard time figuring out how to pay for long-term care insurance from their lower incomes and resources,” said Bonnie Burns of California Health Advocates. “Gender discrimination will force even more women out of the market, shifting the cost of their care to their families and the state’s Medicaid program.”
Without AB 1553, rates for women could rise as much as 40 percent, Yamada said. Montana and Colorado already have acted to prohibit gender-based pricing for long-term care insurance.
AB 1553 is co-authored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblywomen Cheryl Brown and Susan Talamantes Eggman. It is expected to be referred to the Assembly Insurance Committee in February.