In Connecticut, employers are finding that an increasing number of health insurers
are charging gender-based rates, resulting in higher rates for thousands of
Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealth Group are among those using gender rates
for small employers there, and recently ConnectiCare--one of Connecticut's
largest health plans--announced plans to phase in gender-based rates starting
July 1, according to the Hartford Courant.
ConnectiCare's changes, which could produce rate differences ranging from 3
to 40 percent, will apply to Connecticut workforces of 50 or fewer employees.
The new rates, which are subject to regulatory approval, are meant to reflect
the differences in usage of medical services between men and women, the Courant
reports. The size of the difference in premiums for men and women will depend
on age, type of health plan and whether a spouse or children are covered.
The Courant reports that female workers subject to gender rates are expected
to feel some financial pain. That's because small employers generally contribute
a set percentage of the premium for a worker, or a specific dollar amount, regardless
of the premium.
Meanwhile, men who work for small employers could see lower prices under gender
rates than they would have seen under the current plan.
The final premiums that employers and workers pay, however, will be affected
by more than just the switch to gender rates. ConnectiCare, like other insurers,
also has regular rate increases to reflect rising medical costs.
In addition, insurers in the small-employer market charge higher premiums as
workers age. The increases are significant when an employee reaches middle-age.
It's possible that some small employers would face steeply higher premiums
if they are affected by all three factors.