Divine, Feminine and Covered
The U.S. has been in an uproar over the implementation of a new health care bill spearheaded by President Obama. According to many, the bill is a step forward for universal human rights. For instance, The New York Times reports that the new law strictly forbids sexual discrimination which means that being a woman will no longer be a pre-exisiting condition.
The change reinforces apsects of the Civil Rights Act regarding the monitoring of insurance companies, which have been taking full advantage of women in this area by charging higher and stricter premiums. Before the ban it was perfectly acceptable for insurance companies to practice "gender rating" which charged women more than men for the very same coverage, even in policies that do not include maternity care.
The new law will ban the denial of coverage to women who have had a prior Caesarean section, or have been victims of domestic violence. Previously companies have denied coverage in such circumstances by regarding them as pre-existing conditions that will mean a higher cost of coverage. One such company--the ironically named Golden Rule based out of Indianapolis--not only rejected women who had a C-section but went on to recommend that if they became "sterilized" they would offer coverage.
Some new changes to the law will not take into effect until 2014, but the ban on discrimination will be implemented immediately. A passage from the bill reads as follows:
"Except as otherwise provided for in this title (or an amendment made by this title), an individual shall not, on the ground prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.), or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794), be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving federal financial assistance, including credits, subsidies, or contracts of insurance, or under any program or activity that is administered by an executive agency or any entity established under this title (or amendments).”
According to Marcia D. Greenberger, the founder and co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, "what this means is that [an] organization receiving federal money, which insurance companies generally do, cannot discriminate on the basis of sex."
The change in legislation of health care reform is hopefully a step forward in the evolution of the U.S. We need such changes in order for us to step out of the dark ages where it was perfectly ok for people to be discriminated against due to gender or race, and into a new age closer to equality and universal human rights.
Image by Beverly and Pack on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet