In this state, that's noted for striving towards equality for all, a woman on average pay 23.5 percent more than men for essentially the same coverage for disability insurance. Nobody really knows why that's the case. However, that will change if House Bill 482 sees the light of day. State Rep. Ruth Balser and co-sponsor Rep. Keiko Orrall, have filed this bill as one with bipartisan support that would topple this age-old policy.

But why would a woman pay more for disability insurance in the first place? I'm told it's been determined that women file more disability claims that are more expensive because they miss out on employment for long periods of time. As in pregnancy leave? Not exactly. That's one issue where both sides agree that pregnancy is not the reason for gender inequality in disability claims.

So why the difference in price? Jenny Erickson, who is a lobbyist for the Life Insurance Association of Massachusetts, said insurers have no idea why women's claims are more expensive. And until now, no one has bothered to research this.

I'll share my opinion why I believe there's such a disparity, but first, I found out that women between 35 and 65 are more than 50 percent more likely than men to become disabled, and female claims are sometimes more than double male costs.

I think the first written policy was conceived by men who had no idea of what gender-based discrimination was about. If this bill passes, it would require gender-neutral pricing for about 182,000 women insured by state-regulated disability insurance policies. I support HB 482 (Senate Bill 545). If it passes, Massachusetts would become only the second state behind Montana to take steps towards parity.

Editor’s Note: Phil Paleologos is the morning talk show host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6am-10am. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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