Assemblymember Mariko Yamada
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB 1553 (Yamada) – Support
Dear Assemblymember Yamada,
California Health Advocates (CHA) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and advocacy efforts on behalf of California’s Medicare beneficiaries. We provide technical assistance and training to the network of California’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Programs (HICAP) on subjects including Medicare, Medicare Advantage programs, Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap), and long-term care insurance.
We strongly support your bill, AB 1553, which will prohibit increased premiums for women buying long term care insurance based solely on their gender. As you know, women earn less over their lifetimes than men, are less likely to have access to pensions, and have gaps in their employment when they have children. Women also often act as caregivers for their older family members while employed and often while their children are still young. Caregiving responsibilities of daughters and daughters-in-law often affect their earnings in much the same way that child care does, causing tension on their job and limiting their careers. The free care women provide protects the assets of the elders they care for, and in many ways may replace these elders’ dependence on Medi-Cal.
In later life women are often caregivers for their spouse. Wives who care for their impaired spouse are often widowed and live alone when they need care. As a result, more women than men use nursing home care, and more women than men live a greater number of years in a nursing home due to their longer life spans. More women than men become eligible for Medi-Cal as this costly care strips them of any assets left after the death of their spouse.
Long term care insurance has the potential to provide funds to pay for care that can keep a widow in her home. Long term care insurance is expensive, and gender based premiums will make this insurance even less affordable for women. We applaud you for your efforts to prevent the further erosion of the purchasing power of women for this insurance.
Bonnie Burns, Policy Specialist, California Health Advocates
1 HICAP is California’s federally funded State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) that assists California’s Medicare beneficiaries and their families.