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At long last, health insurers have agree to end discrimination in the form of charging women higher premiums than men for identical coverage. Senator John Kerry introduced a bill on Tuesday that will prohibit health insurers from using gender as a factor in determing premiums in the individual health care insurance market. Karen Ignagni, president of health insurance trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans, agreed to the change during a hearing held by the Senate Finance Committee.

The justification for the disparity in premiums, sometimes as much as 50% higher for women than those charged men for the same coverage, has been that women ages 19 to 55 have more chronic medical conditions, cost carriers more than men because of issues related to child bearing, have a higher incidence of doctor visits and regular check-ups, and have a higher incidence of prescription drug use. The discussion and change was spurred by the Obama Administration’s and Congress’ efforts to overhaul the massive health care industry in the United States.

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