Bunker, Rachel Alexandra
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Two components made possible the growth of the insurance industry in the twentieth century; first, an ever more complex hierarchy of risk classification based on company statistics and actuarial science, and, second, a tight locus of personalized information exchange between insurers, employers, and credit rating agencies. However, consumer activists increasingly recognized these institutional practices as facilitating unfair discriminatory underwriting. In the latter half of the twentieth century, social movements, especially second-wave feminism and HIV/AIDS activists challenged both components of insurance by pressing Congress to pass anti-discrimination legislation such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Economic Equity Act. In these efforts to redefine access to insurance as a civil right, consumer-activists would ultimately fail. Instead, insurance companies successfully framed underwriting as a strictly economic matter best left to the expertise of individual insurance companies and the structures of a theoretically free market.