Health Insurers Are Charging You More for Being a Woman


hundred dollar billsWe all know this country has a serious problem when it comes to health insurance. But did you know that women are bearing the brunt of the problem to a significantly higher degree? Consider the issue of health coverage gender bias, by the numbers, according to a new report from Prevention magazine:

  • In 37 states, it's legal to deny us health insurance because we're women.
  • 95 percent of insurance companies that sell individual health care plans practice something called "gender rating," or gender-related denials.
  • Women end up paying 84 percent more than men for coverage.

In other words, we're being royally screwed and discriminated against by health insurance companies, and until the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect in 2014, these glaring inequalities will be perfectly legal. Shocked? Enraged? You should be!

A'course, health insurers aren't required to explain why they deny any applicant ever, but when they've been confronted with the question of how they can possibly deny women for the "preexisting condition" of basically being a woman, they say they're just "practicing good business." Because see, women use health care more often, seeing our docs earlier and at younger ages than men. We like to, I don't know, take care of ourselves or something crazy like that! And apparently, health insurers don't like to have to pay for all those "silly," preventative doctors visits ... even if they save them money in the long-run!

Think about it -- as one of the experts who was on CBS discussing the report put it, it's a lot cheaper to pay for annual exams than a quadruple bypass that occurs as a result of skipping 'em. Treating stage 1 cancer is a lot cheaper than the treatment for stage 4. So, you would think we ladies would get a DISCOUNT for attempting to catch diseases (like breast cancer) earlier and having preventative procedures (like mammos) that aim for early detection and early treatment. But, noooo. It's the opposite.

Thankfully, we can fight back. The folks at Prevention recommend shopping around for different health insurance to prove you won't put up with being charged more for being a woman. If you're denied or you can't afford insurance, that may seem like a difficult battle to wage. But you can still fight by voting for state representatives and politicians who support health care reform (the Affordable Health Care Act), because as long as that legislation remains in tact, this gross, sexist injustice will hopefully become a thing of the past.

Are you surprised women pay so much more for health insurance? How do you plan to fight back?


Image via David Beyer/Flickr

obgyn, general health, health insurance


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nonmember avatar Cass

I notice you say that women should get a discount for, on average, going to the doctor more often for preventative care. How is that any less discriminatory to the man who takes care of himself? Discrimination is discrimination, even when it's in your favor.

Senia... Seniahmom

Not surprised at all. The whole industry seems to be against women. Why should I be surprised that we are being charged more for insurance when government and "health experts" alike are trying to cut services and/or convince us that preventive care procedures aren't necessary (ie pap smears change to every 3 years or mammograms not til after 50 to name a couple - I know too many women in their 20s and 30s who'd be dead or battling aggressive cancers had they not been caught by these procedures).

miche... micheledo

Well, my car insurance was less expensive simply because I am a woman!  A pretty good deal when it works in your favor.  :D

nonmember avatar jice

People need to realize that health insurance is a business, and they are going to make decisions that benefit them as a business. Women in general (and I know there are circumstances that won't fit in to this, that's why I say "in general") cost more medically then men do. Especially during reproductive years where the woman is either having babies or requiring birth control (unless they use otc or nfp). So it makes more sense for the "big bad evil insurance companies" to charge more for women because they "generally" cost them more. It's not discriminatory... it's just business.

kkey75 kkey75

The last time I checked, I was paying the exact same amount as the person next to me at work. So I can't see how women in general are being discriminated against. Maybe for individually bought plans, but moat people have insurance through employers or the state.

nonmember avatar ele4phant

@jice. But I think they question is not "Is this an unethical business practice?" but "Should keeping people healthy BE a money making business?" I know there are a lot of differing viewpoints out there, but personally I think giving people access to healthcare and the ability to have a good quality life should NOT be about making a profit. obviously, there is a cost to providing healthcare, and beyond that basic cost I don't think we should be paying above that so someone else can make money. It shouldn't be "just business", IMO.

johnk... johnkern72

Many existing laws and regulations apply specifically to pregnant women. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act offer new benefits for expecting mothers. Search online for "Penny Health" if you need affordable insurance for yourself or your wife.

tayanna2 tayanna2

The best part of health insurance separate from the government is the ability to shop around to different providers and see who can give you the best deal with the best coverage. As the demand moves to cheaper health care for women, so does the supply. The problem is when government gets involved. Thanks to fed and state laws, I can't purchase insurance from a company in Tennessee if I live in Alabama. Why? Thanks to fed and state laws there is a restriction on who I can include on my coverage. Why? So the big question is WHY do you keep thinking more federal laws, specifically the Affordable Act, are going to make anything better for anyone? Yes, the bottom percentage will get coverage, but it will be no better than the Medicaid coverage they can get NOW. Is that really worth so much government interference? Where does it end? What IS the role of government?

Also for the "evil, greedy corporation" people. Corporations are not evil and they're not good. They are amoral. Their purpose, just like EVERY other business of any size, is to make a profit. In fact, management is required BY LAW to act in the best interest of the corporations shareholders. So if you have a 401k, stocks, or mutual funds, you are a shareholder and part owner of a corporation. Are you evil and greedy, because there sure was a lot of complaining when the stock market crashed. Right, that's not your fault it's the evil, greedy corporations, oh wait!

xo.Mo... xo.MommyW.xo

It's very hard to afford insurance in the first place.  I think ALL people who go to their yearlies should get credited on their premium!

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