New law banning gender discrimination prompts City to drop lawsuit 

A new law that bans gender discrimination in health insurance prices will bring a welcome end to a lawsuit filed by San Francisco against the state, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said today.

The new law is one of 478 bills signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before Sunday's deadline.

It prohibits California health insurance companies from charging women higher rates than men for individual health insurance policies. The practice of charging members of one gender a higher premium is known as gender rating.

Herrera had sued state officials in San Francisco Superior Court in January, contending that gender rating violates the California Constitution.

The lawsuit cited a report by the National Women's Law Center that found that California women under the age of 55 paid up to 39 percent more for individual health insurance than men, even if the insurance didn't include maternity coverage.

The lawsuit was put in abeyance while state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, pursued the bill that has now been signed by Schwarzenegger.

"This law will end discriminatory treatment of women in the individual health insurance market, and help more than a million Californians obtain affordable coverage," Herrera said.

The city attorney said lawyers from his office will seek dismissal of the lawsuit within the next few days.

- Bay City News
 

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