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Two Bills Could Change California’s Individual Insurance Market

Audio

Aired 9/29/09

Consumer advocates say Governor Schwarzenegger can help reform California's health care system by signing two bills on his desk. One measure would prohibit insurers from charging women more for policies. The other would require all health plans to cover maternity care.

— Consumer advocates say Governor Schwarzenegger can help reform California's healthcare system by signing two bills on his desk. One measure would prohibit insurers from charging women more for policies. The other would require all health plans to cover maternity care.

Employer-based insurance plans are prohibited by federal law from charging extra for maternity coverage. These plans are also barred from charging women higher premiums.

The restrictions don't apply in California's individual insurance market.

Bryan Liang is with the California Western School of Law. He says five states require individual policies to include maternity care.

"So this is not an unusual thing, and certainly not something that should be excluded," Liang says. "Of course from the insurers point of view, this is a very expensive area of coverage, and that's why they want to exclude it."

Supporters say women shouldn't be penalized for the ability to have children.

Insurance companies argue mandates will increase costs for everyone.

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