Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Health Insurance Redlining?

Something about Bob's post this morning (regarding the "new and improved" ObamaTax applications) has been bugging me.

To wit:

"HHS  today released new applications for individuals and adults looking to get health insurance ... also ask for contact information and race-ethnicity."

Back in the day (actually, before my time), insurance applications routinely asked for one's race, and it played a part in the underwriting process. By the time I entered "the biz" (in the early '80's) the practice was long-since abandoned.

But it was unclear to me whether this was by law or custom, and I did some searching to find out. I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for (an Ohio law prohibiting the practice), so I called the Department of Insurance. The nice gentleman there told me that this was a federal, not state, law. So off I went in search of that elusive federal law that specifically prohibits asking about race on an insurance application.

Still no joy.

Here's the challenge: there is a clear distinction between asking a question and using the information. For example, applications routinely ask for email addresses. But those are not (to the best of my knowledge) actually used in the underwriting process. So the fact that race may not be used in underwriting is not the same as saying one can't be asked about it.

The point of this exercise is probably apparent by now: if the law specifically prohibits asking about race on an insurance application, then why is Ms Shecantbeserious deliberately breaking it, and why isn't this being called out in the elite media?
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