Section 1557, the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), is unmatched in its reach, widely applying race, gender, disability, and age discrimination protections across all areas of healthcare. This Article will explore the value added of a civil rights approach to combating health insurance discrimination when combined with other ACA anti-discrimination efforts that were designed to regulate the health insurance market. It will emphasize the role that section 1557 can play in combatting healthcare disparities and will explore the utility of disparate impact and disparate treatment claims to those cases. Lastly, the Article will posit that two doctrinal limits weaken a civil rights approach to health insurance equity. First, it is unclear to what extent economic rationality is a permissible defense to insurance discrimination. Second, civil rights doctrine focuses on formal equality, which is of limited use in health insurance, where healthcare distribution must necessarily be unequal. Despite these limitations, section 1557 and civil rights in general will play a critical role in health equity in post-reform healthcare.
Valarie K. Blake,
An Opening for Civil Rights in Health Insurance After the Affordable Care Act,
B.C.J.L. & Soc. Just.