| 
Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Author: Deirdre Cummings

Legislative Director

(617) 747-4319

Started on staff: 1986
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Deirdre runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre has led campaigns to protect consumers from identity theft in the wake of massive security breaches at Equifax and Marriot, eliminate unfair pricing practices in disability insurance products, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent and available on an easy-to-use website, close $400 million in corporate tax loopholes, protect the state’s retail sales laws to reduce overcharges and preserve price disclosures, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 17,000 complaints and returned $4 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass., with her family. Over the years she has visited all but one of the state's 351 towns — Gosnold.

TO: Chairman Eldridge, Chairman Michlewitz and members of the Financial Services Committee

FR:Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director

DT: January 15, 2018

Testimony In Support of Prohibiting Unfair Pricing Practices in Disability Insurance Policies, H.482 & S. 545

MASSPIRG is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit, member supported public interest advocacy and watchdog organization. MASSPIRG strongly supports H.482 and S.545, An Act Providing for Equitable Coverage in Disability Policies, filed by Representative Ruth Balser and Senator Jason Lewis.  The bill will end the current practice of charging women more than men for the same disability insurance policies, bringing private disability policies in line with most other insurance products in the state.

Currently, state-regulated individual disability insurance is classified by sex. Filings at the Division of Insurance show different premiums for men and women with the same job classification.  For example, male nurses pay less than female nurses for the same disability policy.  In fact, in every case, women pay much more than men for the same disability insurance benefits as men in the same occupations class. Based on filings between 2012-2015 with the MA Division of Insurance, on average women pay 23.5%   more than men. Some policies, women have to pay as much as 61% more than men. This is unfair, no consumer should have to pay more based on their gender. Over a life time, that price difference is significant.  

Shortly after the adoption of the Massachusetts E.R.A. in 1976, a specially-designated legislative committee concluded that the Massachusetts E.R.A. requires insurance policies to be gender neutral.  Men and women should pay the same premiums and get the same benefits.  Since then, the legislature has taken action to carry out this mandate. 

Today, companies selling health insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners’ insurance, workers compensation, annuity policies and even disability policies purchased through employers are prohibited from using gender in rate setting or underwriting criterion.

In Massachusetts, individual disability policies account for 11% of all disability policies. That amounts to 182,000 people with individual, gender-priced insurance policies. Like almost every insurance policy issued in the state, private disability policies should be prohibited from gender based pricing. 

Example[1]:

To purchase a disability insurance policy worth $5000 in monthly benefits, a 50 year old, non-smoking woman would have to pay almost 46% more than a 50-year old, non-smoking man with the same occupation. That’s almost an extra $600/year. And over the lifetime of the policy, that means thousands of dollars more than men. Here’s what that looks like…

H. 482 & S. 545 requires that all disability policies sold in Massachusetts be gender-neutral in all terms and conditions, including premiums and benefits.

Please pass this bill from your committee without delay.

 

[1] American General Life and Accident Insurance Company filings with the Division of Insurance, Class 4

Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Author: Deirdre Cummings

Legislative Director

(617) 747-4319

Started on staff: 1986
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Deirdre runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre has led campaigns to protect consumers from identity theft in the wake of massive security breaches at Equifax and Marriot, eliminate unfair pricing practices in disability insurance products, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent and available on an easy-to-use website, close $400 million in corporate tax loopholes, protect the state’s retail sales laws to reduce overcharges and preserve price disclosures, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 17,000 complaints and returned $4 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass., with her family. Over the years she has visited all but one of the state's 351 towns — Gosnold.