By: Hillary Schneller, FellowPosted on January 16, 2014 Issues: Discrimination in Health Care

Today, the National Women’s Law Center filed sex discrimination complaints with the HHS Office for Civil Rights against four long-term care insurance companies in response to their practice of “gender-rating” long-term care insurance policies. This gender-based pricing scheme means that women will be charged more than men for the same long-term care insurance coverage simply because they are women. That’s sex discrimination plain and simple, in violation of the law that prohibits sex discrimination in health care—Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Long-term care insurance covers the costs of managing and maintaining the condition of an individual who has a cognitive impairment or needs assistance with the daily activities of life. About 57% of people that buy long-term care insurance are women [PDF] and they shouldn’t be paying a price because they are women. The Supreme Court stood by that principle in 1978, in City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power v. Manhart. In that case, an employer required its female employees to make larger contributions to its pension fund than its male employees based on the justification that women, as a class, live longer than men. There the Court held that federal law’s prohibition of sex discrimination in employment (Title VII) requires employers to treat employees as individuals, not “simply as components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.”

The same is true with long-term care insurance. And we’re confident the Office for Civil Rights will agree.