DeLauro talks women’s issues

Rep. Rose DeLauro and women’s health experts spoke at the Graduate Club Tuesday.
Rep. Rose DeLauro and women’s health experts spoke at the Graduate Club Tuesday. Photo by Roy Lee.

As health care reform muddled through Congress Tuesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and women’s health experts spoke about the discrimination women face from health insurance companies.

DeLauro, who talked before a group of about 25 at the Graduate Club on Elm Street, said women’s issues have been left out of the debate in the media over health care reform. But, if passed, the health care bill will end many discriminatory practices against women, she said.

“These are important women’s issues that haven’t seen the light of day in the media,” DeLauro said.

The health care bill, she explained, should end health insurance companies’ discriminatory practices such as gender rating, in which women pay up to 48 percent more than men on similar health insurance policies. The bill should also stop health insurance companies from disqualifying people who have preexisting conditions from receiving health coverage; women who face domestic violence or have Cesarean sections are currently disqualified under these provisions, DeLauro said.

DeLauro, who represents Connecticut’s Third Congressional District, which includes New Haven, said she expects the health care bill — projected to cost $829 billion over 10 years — to pass by the end of the calendar year.

Women’s Health Research at Yale Director Carolyn Mazure, who spoke after DeLauro, said women cost more to insure than men. Because most research studies generalize for men’s experiences, she said, women are more likely to receive ineffective care at doctors’ offices and hospitals.

Teresa Younger, the executive director of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Standing Committee on the Status of Women, said central to the health care debate is the idea that women get access to reproductive care.

“Women must be able to choose when to start their own families,” Younger said.

Three people in attendance said they were in support of DeLauro’s advocacy for women’s health issues. New Haven resident Susan McLaughlin said women do not get adequate political representation at the highest levels of government.

“There is a bias in leadership of this country against women,” McLaughlin said.

Elizabeth Cafarella, the public policy director at the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services Inc., said she attended the forum to get an overview of the progress of the health care legislation in Congress.

Several hours after DeLauro spoke, the Senate Committee on Finance voted 14–9 to approve a version of the health care reform bill. The version, which was spearheaded by Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, represents months of effort to try to build bipartisan consensus on health care reform.


  • Egalitarian

    While it may be true that certain insurance companies charge higher rates to women than men in the individual market, the overwhelming majority of people get their insurance through their employers, where this is not an issue. On the other hand, men are charged higher rates than women for car insurance and life insurance, where far more people are affected. This is commonly justified using statistics showing that there are more men than women who drive aggressively and cause accidents. However, many of us are responsible drivers who do not engage in such behavior. We should not be subject to a collective punishment that would be clearly unconstitutional were it done by the government instead of private companies. (Indeed, I contend that mandatory insurance laws are unconstitutional in the absence of provisions to protect drivers from gender discrimination.)

    I wholeheartedly and unconditionally support the passage of a health insurance bill that prohibits gender discrimination. However, gender discrimination in car and life insurance should be similarly prohibited. I see no one taking any action to make this happen. I would only hope that Rep. DeLauro would be willing to do unto others as she would have them do unto her.

  • yale 08

    Insurance is underwritten not by some mean old sexist, racist tyrant, but rather by impartial actuaries- math nerds.

    Yes, insurance is based upon the Law of Large Numbers.

    According to the law, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed.

    Women cost more for health insurance largely because women live LONGER (longer you’re around = more chances to get sick and need treatment) and because women get PREGNANT (often several times).

    Male drivers get in more vehicle accidents.

    Construction workers fall off of roofs.

    Insulation companies used asbestos.

    These things cost MONEY and so the premiums should be HIGHER.

    Wake up kids.

  • Egalitarian

    As someone majoring in a highly quantitative field, I find it naive of you to say that actuaries are “math nerds” and therefore impartial. Of all the branches of mathematics, statistics is the one most prone to abuse. Often, the statistics that yield a politically correct result are chosen while the politcally incorrect statistics are conveniently ignored. While there are more accidents involving male drivers, it is also true that male drivers drive most miles. Per mile driven, male drivers actually get into fewer accidents than female drivers. If one accepts the highly flawed premise that gender is a valid criterion on which to base insurance rates, then these figures should be normalized for number of miles driven.

    As far as construction workers go, these people work dangerous jobs for low wages and are afforded low social status for it, even though they provide invaluable services to the rest of us. Should we punish those who choose such a path with high insurance rates? It’s absurd to ask people to pay for the right to be killed. Should we punish those who simply had the bad luck to be born into the same gender as the majority of those who choose such a path, even though they personally did not and do not carry such a risk?

    One of the most important principles of statistics is that correlation does not imply causation. The actuarial profession would do well to learn that.