Groups fight to keep gender-fairness rules in reform bills

A coalition of women's health groups, legal organizations and at least some female Senators are fighting one of the lower-profile battles over provisions they'd like to make sure stay in the final version of health reform legislation.

The provisions would take several steps to address inequities in health insurance coverage for women, including a ban on health plans charging women more than men for the same policies, and a requirement that companies provide maternity coverage in basic plans, advocates say.

Right now, most states allow health plans to charge women more than men for the same coverage, as well as allowing plans to charge businesses with largely female workers higher group rates. Eight states and the District of Columbia let health plans deny coverage to domestic violence victims.

Some health insurers may refuse to pay for a c-section delivery if a woman has had one before, or deny maternity coverage to women who are pregnant when purchasing a policy.

At present, all five versions of the health reform package address at least some of these issues. The question is whether they'll survive final negotiations over costs, observers say.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this USA Today article

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