In March, 2012, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) reported that women pay more for health insurance than men – about $1 billion more each year. Health-Insurance.org states that, on average, women pay 35% more than men for health insurance. When insurance companies base their premiums on one’s gender, it is referred to as “gender rating.”
The NWLC found that 92% of health companies base their insurance premiums on gender (except in states where such gender rating is considered illegal), and only 3% of those companies include maternity coverage.
In fact, in many states female non-smokers pay more for health insurance than male smokers, implying that being a woman is a bigger health risk than being a smoker. Nonetheless, statistics have shown that women somehow manage to live longer than men.
Why Do Women Pay More for Health Insurance?
Health companies explain that women pay more for health insurance because women visit doctors more often, have checkups more regularly, and are prescribed more drugs than men. Women are also known to be more susceptible to certain illnesses, including autoimmune disorders.
Since women take advantage of health care services more often than men, insurance providers claim that women must pay a larger insurance premium for their health care.
The National Women’s Law Center, however, observed that the cost of health care varied widely from state to state and across health care companies, inconsistencies that raise questions as to whether such gender-based premium hikes are legitimate.
Women Pay More for Health Insurance – Can We Afford To?
The NWLC believes that higher premiums with lower wages (women are paid 77 cents on the dollar of what men are paid), makes it more difficult for women to afford their health care.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the majority of women obtain health insurance through their work. If women didn’t rely on their work for insurance, they were likely to rely on their spouses’ insurance plan.
If women and their spouses can only find part time work, they are less likely to afford and purchase health care insurance. Women can also be dropped from their spouses’ insurance plans in the event of divorce or the death of the spouse.
Increases in health-care spending, reported by The Atlantic, compound the problem, and if employers switch to cheaper health coverage plans, women will have even more trouble paying for health insurance.
Women Pay More for Health Insurance – What’s the Impact?
The problem with egregious health care costs for women is that it deters them from seeking the care and treatment that they need when they need it.
The KFF reported that 24% of women did not seek out health care when they needed it because they could not afford it, whereas only 16% of men delayed doctor visits for the same reason.
In addition, KFF found that high costs deterred 21% of women from filling their prescription drugs. Fewer men were impacted by the high costs of prescription drugs.
Mammograms help detect breast cancer in women, and early detection can help prevent death from the disease. Unfortunately, the US Department of Health and Human Services noted that 73% of insured women between the ages of 40 and 64 received mammograms, while only 38% of uninsured women from the same age group underwent the same examination.
Not having health insurance increases the risk that a woman will not be properly diagnosed and treated for preventable and/or treatable diseases.
The KFF reported 17 million women over the age of 18 are uninsured in the US.
Health care companies are already aware that women are less satisfied with health care than men, and this aggravation and frustration is beginning to draw attention. The Federal government is aware that these issues exist: The Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for health insurance companies to discriminate based on gender. Spread the word.