A new study suggests that many insurance companies’ health plan documents contain language allowing them to refuse to cover a range of services used most often by women.
According to the study, led by researchers at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., the Affordable Care Act’s implementation was supposed to stop insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of gender or because of current or prior health conditions, such as chronic diseases. However, the study said, it appears women are still facing discrimination from health insurance companies, which often exclude health services that women are likely to need, leaving them “vulnerable to higher costs and denied claims that threaten their economic security and physical health.”
The researchers reviewed plan documents from states such as Washington, California, Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere and found six types of excluded services that could have a disproportionate impact on women's health care. These frequently excluded services included maintenance therapy (such as treatment for lupus, depression, chronic pain and other chronic health conditions and for breast and lung cancers, which often require maintenance therapy to slow their progression), genetic testing and fetal reduction surgery.
“More broadly, advocates say, the report suggests coverage issues that may still need to be addressed, despite significant improvements in coverage of women's health needs following passage of the Affordable Care Act,” stated a report on the study by NPR.
The researchers suggested that regulators should take two approaches to addressing this potential discrimination: prohibit health plan exclusions that undermine protections in the Affordable Care Act, and require insurance companies to be more transparent in their plans.
You can read more about the study and these recommendations by clicking here.