Women Charged More for Identical Health Insurance

A bunch of conscientious readers have sent us the link to a really depressing article in today’s New York Times about economic differentials for women and men when it comes to health insurance costs–and, no, not just because we’re the ones that bear the babies. It reads, “In general, insurers say, they charge women more than men of the same age because claims experience shows that women use more health care services. They are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription medications and to have certain chronic illnesses.”
Seriously? Is our health care system so broken that when women actually use it, it discriminates against them? This is deeply troubling. Health care is a human right. Every woman in this country deserves it, and deserves to be charged the same as her male peer for it. And if we’re looking at it from a strictly economic stand point, preventative care of the type that these insurers claim women do more of actually saves them money over the long run!
Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, has it right: “The wide variation in premiums could not possibly be justified by actuarial principles. We should not tolerate women having to pay more for health insurance, just as we do not tolerate the practice of using race as a factor in setting rates.”
One more reason to vote people. Check out the candidates’ differing health insurance plans: Obama and McCain.

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51 Comments

  1. Lilith Luffles
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Interesting post… Insurance is tricky. If women in general were more expensive to cover due to our health, I might not be so irked, but because we use it more? Hm.
    Insurance companies charge more based on specific things all the time… like how men pay more for car insurance, people of certain ages pay more for car insurance, people who live where tornadoes may strike pay more for that insurance, etc. They all base it all on statistics.
    Any thoughts on any of these?

  2. Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    The finding are appalling. I find it interesting that this article was published today. Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and higher health care costs for women are certainly related to pregnancy discrimination. Yesterday I attended a symposium on pregnancy discrimination. It was a great event with speakers and panelists talking about the history of the PDA, current trends, and the outlook for the future. My organization addresses this discrimination to some degree, but I was floored by the fact that pregnancy discrimination cases are higher now than they were in the early 1990′s (though the question remains is this because there’s more discrimination or are more people aware of their rights and filing claims), especially among women of color. One of the organizations who put on the symposium is the National Partnership for Women & Families. You can read their latest report on pregnancy discrimination online.

  3. AngryYoungFemme
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    This, coupled with the eye-opening experience that was The Business of Being Born, has further solidified my burning desire to move to Europe.

  4. demimonde
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I just saw this in my inbox and it makes me want to scream.
    I am a 31 year old college student who is forced to get individual coverage because her university health care is abysmal. I already use home remedies for everything I possibly can, but if I got really sick… I’d be bankrupt. Without insurance, my birth control costs $45 per month. (I’m switching to another brand that is on a pharmacy discount list, but still.)
    And they don’t even cover maternity care!? Are you kidding me?! My fiance and I are planning on having children in the next few years, and this terrifies me. I have a little bit of savings, but I was planning on using it to buy a house. So much for that. By the time we’re ready to have kids, sure, I will have a teaching job with insurance, but what about the millions of women in poverty? What about the women who are working 34 hours a week (not full time, ladies, sorry!)? What about students like me, women who are trying to better themselves and achieve their dreams? Why am I being punished for that?
    OK I have to stop because, seriously ladies, I’m about to start crying. I just can’t take this anymore.
    The next person who tries to tell me that we don’t need national health insurance will get punched.

  5. misssongbird
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    So… it’s cheaper for a woman to pay for abortions than to get healthcare that covers pregnancy at a reasonable cost? Okay Pro-Lifers, what do you say to that?

  6. oswid_
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Here is how it is organized in Russia. There is universal healthcare which is “free”. People are paying for it indirectly by paying taxes. It is also called mandatory healthcare. It is awful. I am sure you will not like it at all.
    But any person is free to buy additional health insurance. In average it costs 1,5 times more for women than for men (and pregnancy and births are not covered by insurance for obvious reasons). Why? Because women more frequently visit doctors, they consume more medical services. I think it is one of the reasons why women live much longer here in Russia than men.
    On the other hand life insurance depends on the age AND gender. It costs more for men.

  7. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    So basically, men are more likely to ignore their health problems and die, so they are less expensive, so let’s charge the women more and hope maybe they’ll start ignoring their health problems and dying, too!
    My fiance and I are planning to move to Massachusetts once I finish school for these very reasons. He’s currently a resident and getting insurance through his dad through a bit of cheating (he lives in NH but is registered in MA). I’m on my parent’s plan, which sucks but they are still paying the copays. Once I’m out, my insurance will be a fortune and I might not even HAVE it unless we move to Mass and someone is required to cover me.
    What gets me the most about this is that they aren’t allowed to use race. Even if you assume slightly higher plans for women of childbearing years to accommodate birth control, pregnancies, and deliveries, men are more likely to have health problems than women, even if they don’t get them treated. Similarly, whites are more likely to get treatment for, say, mental illness, than Asian-Americans, and African-Americans have more health problems than Caucasians because their genetics do not accommodate the Western culture and diet as well as Caucasian genetics. And certain religious groups are more likely to seek care than others, too. Either certain characteristics are untouchable despite having real differences in healthcare demands– race, gender, religion– or they are all up for grabs (and you can imagine the outrage if Baptists were charged more than Pentecostals for health care!).

  8. rootedwillow
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    this is so stupid…it should be universal health care for ALL and it shouldn’t matter how much a specific gender spends on health care IT SHOULD BE FREE! In the US we can put money away for “defense” but we can’t put money away for health care? So the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Money is seriously the dumbest invention of people-kind.

  9. Katie
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    While I didn’t find this surprising over on NYT, it is mind-boggling.
    Pregnancy and childbirth (or its prevention) should be treated as expected events, not “extras” on a health plan. Insurance pays for mammograms and hopefully cancer care because statistically, there is a chance that even the healthiest woman could come down with breast cancer. And most women will be pregnant at least once.
    @ Brianna G, I appreciate what you’re saying- but I doubt that it’s scientifically valid to say non-Caucasians have more health problems than Caucasians. Nor are health problems in non-Caucasians likely caused by genetic inability to adapt to Western culture.
    I don’t mean to be snooty to you, just thought I’d add my $0.02.

  10. Jen R
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    So, because women on average *take better care of our health than men*, our health insurance should cost more.

  11. Mama Mia
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Actually, there was just research on whether preventative care was cheaper, and they found that it was more expensive, because… people live longer. It also found that it is cheaper to let people die. The researchers conclusion however was not that we should stop doing preventative care, but that we should stop thinking about health care in terms of profit and loss. As Courtney said, health care should be a human right, not a privilege, which is what it is now.
    Here’s the article on the costs of preventative care: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/health/views/07essa.html?_r=1&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

  12. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    “@ Brianna G, I appreciate what you’re saying- but I doubt that it’s scientifically valid to say non-Caucasians have more health problems than Caucasians. Nor are health problems in non-Caucasians likely caused by genetic inability to adapt to Western culture.”
    Well, I didn’t say non-Caucasians, I said African-Americans (specifically, descendants of sub-saharan Africans, not North Africans)– I don’t know the health statistics on all ethnic groups. There definitely are higher rates of diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity, heart disease etc among African-Americans than among Caucasians of similar income levels and class status, which is believed to be due to evolved differences in metabolism that allow Caucasians, especially Northern Eurasians, to eat a lot more dairy and meat proteins (which makes sense considering where they lived) than Africans, whose ancestors had less access to meat, no access to non-human milk, and ate a diet of mostly tubers and grains with long periods of famine due to minimal or no agriculture. So when they were forced to assimilate into Western culture, which had developed around the European diet and lifestyle, over only a couple hundred years, the metabolism wasn’t quite right, causing many diet-related health problems and a higher rate of obesity.
    It’s like how Native Americans have more health problems when they live the Western lifestyle (and don’t adapt it appropriately to their own health needs, obviously anyone can consult a doctor and get a healthy diet plan). It’s just a question of how our bodies evolved to the environment we were in, and then to suddenly change that with Western expansion and then slavery was very hard on some groups.

  13. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Of course, my original point still stands: Biological differences or not, people should not be charged more for things they cannot control. For lifestyle choices, sure– I doubt anyone objects to charging smokers or heavy drinkers a little more– but not for things like gender, race, sexuality, mental illness, or other preexisting conditions that are not the result of definite choices on the part of the individual.

  14. Matt
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    And if we’re looking at it from a strictly economic stand point, preventative care of the type that these insurers claim women do more of actually saves them money over the long run!
    Not to disagree with the overall point of the article one bit, but the above statement isn’t really true. It would be true if people used the same health insurance company over the course of their entire lives, because then there would be an incentive for insurance companies to try to keep people healthy now so there aren’t really expensive complications later on. Unfortunately, people change health insurers all the time. They change jobs. The move to different states. They go on their spouse’s insurance if it’s better. Under those circumstances, for individual insurance companies to pay for preventative care is essentially creating savings down the road for some other insurance company. The structure of our health insurance system makes it economically advantageous for companies to insure the most healthy people and the fewest sick people they possibly can.
    Again, not defending the system, just saying that to expect private companies to do anything other than respond to market incentives absent regulations that prevent them from doing so is a fool’s errand.

  15. Katie
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    @ Brianna G, I agree with your last comment. Thanks for clarifying your prior comment!
    Personally though, I DO object to charging based on lifestyle choices. Women do choose to have children- sometimes expensive multiple, high-risk pregnancies. They deserve care for high-risk pregnancies just like smokers deserve care for cancer. Obviously, doctors should discourage smoking and heavy drinking. I just don’t want to institutionalize more discrimination against life choices.

  16. nifty50
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Health insurance rates are based on claims experience. So, in that model, those who use more pay more. The fundamental problem that I see is that we have come to equate health care with health insurance–they are not the same thing. We should have health care available for everyone who needs it regardless of ability to pay. Health insurance is just one way to fund it and probably not the best way since there are profits involved and shareholders to keep happy. Many folks say they don’t want “socialized” medicine–but clearly the capitalist model isn’t working.

  17. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Most women will have a child at some point in her life. Sometimes it’s a conscious choice, sometimes it’s not. To investigate into that further would violate the woman’s privacy, unless the conception itself was medical.
    Besides, in developed nations, pregnancy and birth are short-term effects. I don’t think insurance should fail to cover some kid’s broken arm because he chose to go skiing, because they can X-ray, set it, maybe do some surgery– expensive– and then in a few months he’ll be back to normal. In 99% of cases, women are similarly left with minimal health problems after about 3 months after delivery. It’s temporary. And when it isn’t, the woman usually doesn’t know it is until it’s too late to do anything.
    Smoking, riding a motorcycle, heavy drug use– those have long-term damages. You can’t pay for it and the person is perfectly healthy again after about a year, you will pay for it for the person’s entire life. Obviously they should still have insurance, everyone should, and they should be treated no differently from any other group for things not related to their lifestyle choices. But I would be okay with, say, a separate group plan for smokers, and another for motorcycle riders, etc, each with rates adjusted to account for their increased health problems.

  18. MZ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    “Seriously? Is our health care system so broken that when women actually use it, it discriminates against them?”
    That’s simple economics. The same reason why your premiums go up if you have a history of medical problems — because you used the system more in the past, you are more likely to use it in the future.
    And if women seek medical treatment more often, they are more likely to have higher costs that insurance companies have to pay.
    This is not discrimination against women. The insurance companies treat anyone who seeks more medical treatment the same way.

  19. Kristi
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Depressing? Yes. Surprising? Absolutely not for someone who has had to pay for her own coverage between jobs and when temping — I used to get charts from the insurers listing different costs for different coverages, including male vs female breakdowns.

  20. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    MZ, white people use healthcare more than Asians and they are not allowed to be discriminated against due to their race.
    Methodists use it more than Scientologists or Assemblies of God Pentecostals and they are not allowed to be discriminated against due to their religion.
    If an INDIVIDUAL used health care more in the past than another, then yes, I can see legitimately raising their rates. The companies are not looking at individual women and saying, oh, this woman used health care a lot, so she should be charged more. They are placing women in a group and saying, okay, women IN GENERAL use healthcare more, so let’s charge ALL women more. Even though an individual woman might only use healthcare when she absolutely needs it, in real emergencies– that doesn’t matter, because she’s a woman, so she gets charged the higher rate.

  21. MZ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    The example of automobile insurance was already given. Insurance companies don’t charge men higher car insurance premiums because they hate men. They charge them more because men get in more accidents and present a higher risk — the risk of the insurance company losing money.
    Likewise, if women on average seek more medical care, and have higher medical costs, they also present a higher risk of the insurance company losing money. So they are charged higher premiums.
    Ultimately, insurance companies are not in the business of caring if your car gets fixed or you get medical care. They are in the business of making money. You may not like that, but then you are free to organize, lobby and vote for a different system.

  22. MZ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Brianna, yes, insurance companies do that based on gender probably because it is one of the few easily available and readily discernible facts about a person that you can acquire. And it cuts both ways, as I said. Men are also charged more as a group when it comes to car insurance.
    If the insurance companies could use other statistical data about group differences (religious, ethnic, political, whatever) to change premiums and make their business more efficient, I’m sure they would.

  23. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Just because the article and thread are saying that charging women more is wrong, doesn’t we all think charging men more is right.
    I’ve long been against charging men more for car insurance. Most men I know are the safest drivers ever, never in an accident, etc and they get charged ridiculously high rates.

  24. MZ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Brianna, right, that’s an argument about justice. It’s a philosophical argument, not an economic one. What’s “just” is not always what’s economically efficient.
    For example, hospitals are required to treat patients in critical condition, even if they can’t pay. That is economically inefficient, and hospitals lose money on that, but we as a society make a decision that morality trumps economics in that situation. People shouldn’t be allowed to die just because they can’t pay.
    We can make that decision about insurance, too. As I said, you’re free to organize and vote for a different system.

  25. oswid_
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    > Just because the article and thread are saying that charging women more is wrong, doesn’t we all think charging men more is right
    But if a certain state prohibits insurance companies to take gender into account then this insurance company will start charging women less and men more.
    If state prohibits insurers charging males more for car insurance than they will do it, of course. And will start charging women more.
    Look, this mechanics is well described in this article (the pro-republican one, still there is interesting info there): http://cdhc.ncpa.org/commentaries/interstate-competition-in-the-individual-health-insurance-marketplace

  26. onemorefeminist
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I am so GLAD this has finally has been brought to national attention because I have been complaining about it FOR YEARS and I REALLY THINK ITS DISCRIMINATION PURE AND SIMPLE.
    I’m self-employed, recently incorporated, but I only have one employee me. Which means I’m ineligible for any group plans. In the case of my high deductible no prescriptions plan, I pay 50 dollars a month more than a man. Women pay a lot more than men for “equal” coverage which means no maternity coverage. What is maternity coverage? Most of us think, that’s simply having a baby right? No, its also having an abortion. In short, my health insurance doesn’t cover me having a baby or having an abortion or my birth control pills. (To be fair, I could get a prescription drug plan, but the cost of the plan would run me more than paying the extra 52 dollars a month I pay for orthotricyclen Lo- and the coverage doesn’t even kick in until after 250 dollars of drugs- 5 months) What happens if I get pregnant? Well, I can’t change my plan to one that covers having a baby because its a pre-existing condition. And for those of you who are curious, the same coverage + maternity care is another 130 dollars a month.
    I guess I could shop around more, but this was one of two health insurance companies who have my doctor as “in-network”. Never mind dental insurance, good luck finding an “in-network” dental provider for individual coverage.
    Thank god I have the FREEDOM of CHOICE with healthcare.

  27. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of the argument that euthanasia can’t be legal because then every time you got a health problem that would qualify you for it the insurance would simply refuse to treat you because it wasn’t economically efficient to keep paying for your care when you were able to off yourself instead.
    Economically efficient =/= right, at least when it comes to a human right like medical care. I wasn’t thinking we were complaining that it wasn’t an ECONOMICALLY good choice, obviously it could be, just like not paying for treatment if a perosn can legally kill themselves. I think everyone here was complaining that it was unjust, not economically unsound.
    oswid, I don’t understand how one group paying a little more but equal to another group is a bad thing? Why should my fiance get gouged with car insurance bills so I get a decreased rate, simply because of gender?

  28. catnmus
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    On the one hand, I agree in principle, based on the “men pay more for car insurance” argument.
    However.
    There is still the fact that women only make 70 cents for every dollar that men make. So women paying more is more unequal than men paying more.
    I’m also not sure if this is included in the above, but, women tend to work in jobs that don’t provide insurance, more so than men do. Meaning they’re more often paying for that out of their own pocket rather than their employer paying it.
    Finally, as for the part about women using more prescription drugs, if you take birth control out of the equation, I wonder if it is still true. Women wouldn’t need birth control if it weren’t for men! (Of course some birth control pills would still be used for painful menstruation issues, acne, etc. But I’m sure there’s a lot less of that than of the pill’s primary purpose.) So if BCP is the reason more women take prescription medication than men do, then that should be a false argument and it should stop.

  29. a.k.a. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    MZ,
    Brianna’s right. It is as easy to say that white people use health services more as it is to say that women do. They don’t charge white people more because they know there’d be outrage from a lot of people, I’m betting…

  30. FGJ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I agree that it’s not right to charge someone more for the same health insurance based on their gender. Even if women, on average, use health insurance more than men, on average. Individuals shouldn’t be judged and punished/rewarded by the statistical behavior of their gender.
    On a related note, what do people think about women paying less than men for equal auto insurance? The reasoning is exactly the same, that men, on average, file more claims than women.

  31. Posted October 30, 2008 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    To me, this flies in the face of the very idea of insurance, which is to spread the risk of high individual medical expenses amongst all the people who buy the insurance. By the way, thank you, 30 million other insurance subscribers, for helping me pay for my extremely rare medical condition and expensive surgery.

  32. rootedwillow
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Health care is a HUMAN RIGHT, I think it is useless to keep debating over if this is discrimination or not because WE ALL deserve health care. WE ALL contribute to our societies by working, paying taxes, giving birth, raising children, buying, selling and so forth. We all deserve health care it is discrimination NOT TO GIVE EVERYONE HEALTH CARE. The Health Insurance Industry in the US is a billion dollar business because everything is about money. So how about we keep pushing for UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE instead of arguing about what is unfair about the stupid heath care system we have now.

  33. MZ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Nina, absolutely. Adjusting premiums based on race or religion would be a lot less politically palatable.
    rooted, I think that’s the crux of the problem. If the health of our citizens is going to be treated as a human right, it shouldn’t be a for-profit business. I think health care workers should be paid well, because that incentivizes more and better people to enter the field, but for-profit insurance companies are pointless. They get in the way of good medical care. Their interests are in conflict with the interests of people who need medical care (which is why your premiums go up the more you need medical care).
    Switzerland has a model of private health care, but the insurance system is run by the government, so it is non-profit, and this model seems to work well for them.

  34. MZ
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    catnmus said: “There is still the fact that women only make 70 cents for every dollar that men make.”
    This is an often-quoted statistic, but I don’t think it means what people think it means. The implication is that women make only 70 cents for every dollar that men make *in the same job.* This not the case. That statistic is saying that the average salaries of ALL women are 70% of the average salaries of ALL men. This can be explained by the fact that men and women tend to pursue different careers.
    Now THAT last fact is something that should be addressed. We need to tackle the reasons why women tend to go into lower-paying jobs.
    But it is not the case that women are paid only 70% of what men are paid in the same job. That kind of statement doesn’t make sense on its face. In all the jobs I’ve had, talking to as many male and female coworkers, I’ve never encountered a situation where women were paid less when adjusted for things like experience, length of time at the company, etc.

  35. oswid_
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    > oswid, I don’t understand how one group paying a little more but equal to another group is a bad thing? Why should my fiance get gouged with car insurance bills so I get a decreased rate, simply because of gender?
    Brianna, let’s assume insurer is charging men $100 and women $150. State says that gender shouldn’t be taken into account. Insurer starts charging all people $125. Some men (who consume 1,5 times less than women in average) will stop buying health insurance (just because it doesn’t make sense for them). Thus the pool of insured people becomes less healthy (average person from that pool consumes more than before). Thus the insurer raises the price from $125 to $130. Hmmm… more healthy people stop buying health insurance… and so on.
    That’s why healthy people in “blue” states don’t buy health insurance if they are not forced to do it through the job (no, it is not employer who pays for it, it is employee who eventually pays). And that’s why Obama is being asked “How are you going to force people to buy insurance”. Because a lot of people who can afford it don’t buy it as they are charged too much in those states which heavily regulate health insurance industry.
    What are options?
    1) truely free market health insurance
    2) universal health care (mandatory insurance) owned by goverment
    It seems US is moving towards 2nd option. I know there is a lot of talks inside US about “is Obama socialist?”. From my point of view – yes, he is socialist. There is nothing bad or good with it. If it is the direction US people want their country to move to – good luck. But be prepared that universal health care will be of bad quality – just to satisfy the basic needs. Expect long queues. Expect non-polite doctors.

  36. spike the cat
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    “But be prepared that universal health care will be of bad quality – just to satisfy the basic needs. Expect long queues. Expect non-polite doctors.”
    Yes, but many countries maintain a private health sector along side the public sector and seem to do just fine. I have lived in countries with both types of systems and found a comparable level of care, including wait times.
    The US wastes a lot of money on administrative costs for example because there are thousands of corporate payers each with their own rules. For all of this money spent on administration, we as a country spend more money without seeing the rewards in terms of better outcomes.

  37. nightingale
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I wish people would read the article before defending the practice. In it, it’s clearly stated that the discrepency is too big to be justified by “Women cost more.”
    Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group that has examined hundreds of individual policies, said: “The wide variation in premiums could not possibly be justified by actuarial principles. We should not tolerate women having to pay more for health insurance, just as we do not tolerate the practice of using race as a factor in setting rates.”
    Which makes it not nearly the same as car insurance, in which the discrepancies are completely based on statistical risks. It’s up to you to decide whether or not that’s fair, but it’s not the same thing as what’s happening here.
    Furthermore, owning and driving a car is nothing like having a body. You have a choice in one, and no choice in the other. Car insurance is not the same thing as health insurance; it’s more okay (again, YMMV as to whether or not it’s okay) to have it be biased and unfair, because owning a car is completely optional. Health insurance is a necessity because it is not optional to have a body, everyone gets sick, and health care without it is incredibly expensive, so the companies that provide it must offer it with much less discrimination.
    I don’t know why people are so quick to defend the health insurance companies. These are the people who cover viagra but not birth control. Do you really doubt they’re sexist?

  38. Ali
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    If the Equal rights amendment would ever come out then we might be able to have the same insurance as men. I still can not believe that we are being charged more its outrageous!

  39. anteup
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Re: “Without insurance, my birth control costs $45 per month. (I’m switching to another brand that is on a pharmacy discount list, but still.)”
    My birth control WITH insurance was 40.

  40. happyhappygirl
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    “But be prepared that universal health care will be of bad quality – just to satisfy the basic needs. Expect long queues. Expect non-polite doctors.”
    As someone who has been on both sides, public & private health insurance, I can say that this statement is not necessarily true. There are bad doctors and bad clinics on both sides, and good doctors and good clinics as well.
    I found public health insurance to be an absolute blessing, and I strongly advocate for a single payer national health insurance program that pays doctors what they deserve.

  41. Brianna G
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    “I know there is a lot of talks inside US about “is Obama socialist?”. From my point of view – yes, he is socialist. There is nothing bad or good with it. If it is the direction US people want their country to move to – good luck. But be prepared that universal health care will be of bad quality – just to satisfy the basic needs. Expect long queues. Expect non-polite doctors.”
    The reason the UK and Europe have rude doctors and not enough of them is that all the ones who could be making more money in the US come here.
    Where, exactly, do you think the US doctors will go? I doubt a nice, educated doctor from Missouri is going to settle down in those places that still don’t have socialized medicine– you know, the undeveloped Third World, and the middle east. There simply are no decent places to live left where a doctor could go.
    I like the idea of regular insurance, just one giant plan provider run by the government. Private doctors could charge as much as they wanted and the government could set appropriate copays, and public hospitals and city-run clinics could be free.

  42. blickblocks
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Personally, I’m pretty negative about health insurance companies. Every single one of them excludes transgender people and their health needs, on very contradictory bases. Why are health insurance companies allowed to pick and choose what they want to cover, who they want to cover? How is that “insurance”?

  43. A male
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Yes, despite what actuary tables may say, it is discriminatory to charge different rates based on gender, as it would be for different ethnicities. That’s how insurance works.* You require or seek little care, as I do? (I sure as hell do not seek or receive $500 or $600 a month in care, as is deducted from my paycheck or pay out of pocket for private care.) That’s too bad. People are paying for everyone else, particularly those who need help and can’t afford it. Kind of like taxes, which people are also unlikely to understand, being concerned with what they themselves pay.
    *Why this does not apply to auto or life insurance, I do not know.
    When I was in nursing school, I was going to write a position paper promoting universal health care. I am glad I did not. I was enamored by the argument that a single payer system could save $300 billion per year or more in administrative costs alone, “enough to cover all of the uninsured and to provide full prescription drug coverage for everyone in the United States.”
    http://www.pnhp.org/news/2004/january/national_health_insu.php
    Unfortunately, the issue is not that simple, because government spending and waste pop up in other areas.
    http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA561.html
    Medicare and Medicaid in 2007 made up 21% of federal spending, just in excess of defense at 20%. And that’s just covering the limited number of those (elderly, underprivileged) eligible for coverage. How much would it cost to cover all 300 million in the US?
    Americans, at least, need to learn to control costs before implementing nationalized or universal health care as in most other industrialized nations. I now work as a nurse in a long term care facility. Since the average resident cannot afford over $12,500 out of pocket per month for their care, they rely on the government to pay for them. (P.S. I work in the least expensive, state controlled facility.)
    Sound good? No, because Medicare on average, only pays 70% of health care costs. [To pay for 100% of health care costs, the government would need to increase those outlays 42%.] Even my state government was unable to support the state hospitals in my area, and care was privatized. Privatization was also unable to rein in costs, losing $5 million per year, comparable to what the local major private hospital was losing. My corporation which operates public facilities statewide, alone lost $64 million a year. All told, health care providers in Hawaii are in the hole over half a billion dollars.
    Oh, let’s just cut wasteful spending, one might say. Let’s see you try to provide care for someone who needs 24 hour a day care on the $1,500 per month the government provides a facility like mine. I assume readers are generally pretty healthy. How well can you live on $1,500 a month? Now try paying people salaries to actually take care of you, down to doing your cooking, cleaning and laundry, changing your dirty diapers, bathing and hand feeding you (if necessary), and also for your debilitating health conditions and any necessary treatment or medications. Try building the facilities and acquiring the modernized equipment and facilities necessary for your care. On $1,500 a month.
    Also, I sat with the manager of the local veteran’s hospital, a federally funded facility. Their system of care is in my opinion, a model of what single payer health care could be for the rest of us (who are non veterans or not dependents of those in active military service). I asked the manager, a former instructor at my college of nursing, if she would like the US to adopt a single payer system such as theirs. “No,” was her simple answer. Why not? Because what if the government says your condition is ineligible? (It’s not as if the government is just going to devote endless resources to any individual in need or pay for everything you need or want, if THEY determine it is not worth the risk or expense.) Then you’re right back at private care or paying out of pocket.
    Oh, you’re wanting a system that will pay for everything that people need? Without undesirable tax increases? Good luck on that, too.
    Yes, indeed, let’s have the government pay for health care, and let it be a fair amount (for health care providers), that even public health care not go lacking or bankrupt.

  44. oswid_
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    > spike the cat: The US wastes a lot of money on administrative costs for example because there are thousands of corporate payers each with their own rules.
    Nationalized (universal) health care will have much more administrative costs. As everything which is public. Just because their goal is not to minimize costs at all.
    > nightingale: it’s clearly stated that the discrepency is too big to be justified by “Women cost more.”
    Yep, it is stated but not it is not explained why did they come to this conclusion.
    > happyhappygirl: I found public health insurance to be an absolute blessing, and I strongly advocate for a single payer national health insurance program that pays doctors what they deserve.
    Doctors are payed more in private sector and less in public. So doctors in private sector are better than ones working in public sector. My experience is that even one doctor working partly in public and partly in private sector does his/her work in very different way.
    > Brianna G: Where, exactly, do you think the US doctors will go?
    You are right. Part of them would go to private sector (now small sized), part of them will stay in public one, others will change their occupation. But it is inevitable that there would be less doctors in the next generation. Just because opportunities (salary) in public sector are bad.

  45. A male
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    I like Obama, but he is dreaming if he thinks he can fund his many promises without raising taxes on 95% of taxpayers. I do not question his integrity or sincerity. It’s simple economics.
    Two weeks ago, our Republican governor (in a Democrat state) saw fit to discontinue the country’s only universal health care program (for children). Why? Because it was unaffordable in this age of budget deficits, and will become worse, as travelers and consumers in Hawaii tighten their belts. Hawaii found that surprise, surprise, even people who can afford their own care would rather use (and drain) government funds (as with paying for long term care). Nationwide, Medicare alone (mainly for the elderly) is projected to fall short $85.6 TRILLION for future payments (with a present day value of $34 TRILLION), “more than six times the annual output of the entire U.S. economy,” according to Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    If anyone knows, and more importantly, can explain how the US can come up with an extra $85.6 TRILLION in the future (or $34 TRILLION, TODAY to fund it) to pay for Medicare just for the elderly, “more than six times the annual output of the entire U.S. economy,” please tell us. Then we might believe you can actually come up with a way to pay for health care for ALL the rest of us, about 305 million in the USA, now. Without unreasonably raising taxes or other fees on the average taxpayer. Senators Obama, McCain, Clinton, and others aren’t talking.
    Note: that’s $85,600,000,000,000. Or $111,275.62 for EVERY man, woman and child alive in the USA today, to cover $34 TRILLION dollars NOW. How do you propose we pay for this?
    On a smaller scale, please come up with a way to overhaul the Medicare system to reduce waste and fraud. Please refer to sections 7 and 8 for “Medicare” on Wikipedia: “A Washington Post story from June of 2008 reported that Medicare fraud is a growing problem. Limited resources mean that fewer than 5% of Medicare claims are audited. The annual cost to taxpayers of Medicare fraud is estimated to be over $60 billion.”

  46. SomePoster
    Posted November 3, 2008 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Health care, a human right? You have got to be kidding me. No where in the Constitution of the United States does it mention healthcare as a human right.
    There is no debating that the health care system is royally messed up. Nationalizing it will only worsen the problem.
    To the poster that said it should be free, you might want to get yourself checked. Regardless of the system that gets implemented (Govt controlled or the private sector), health care will ALWAYS cost money. You either save for it with HSA’s, pay for insurance or the government takes taxes. (I say “take”, because you don’t pay taxes, the government “hijacks” your paycheck for you).
    To demimonde:
    I feel sorry for your situation, but that doesn’t change a few key facts:
    1. If your school happens to be state funded and the health care coverage is abysmal, as you so succinctly put it, what makes you think a federal system would be better. If its a private school see if they have alternatives (some schools have more than one plan) or petition the school board.
    2. Even though it is a small amount (they add up though) you do not have to spend the money on birth control. If you stop taking birth control, I hardly doubt your heath would diminish. It’s not like insulin or heart medication, its a luxury medication. You can still protect yourself by making him wear condoms, which are over 97% effective (if he doesn’t already).
    3. These issues are not gender based. Men face the same problems regarding health care and the woes that come with the territory. The fact that you only refer it as a womens issue is rather insulting. What about the PEOPLE in poverty or the PEOPLE only working part-time (cured by second job, if time allows. Granted…economy is crap right now).
    4. The fact that you want to punch someone that doesn’t agree with nationalized health care is worrisome. I do not believe govt run health care is in the nations best interest (for either sex). I think the problem lies in a lack of choice. Another gripe is the fact that costs are hidden from patients and other users (do you know how much a CAT scan costs? I don’t.). I believe more transparency is the cure not a govt run system.

  47. scotlandprincess
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    “But be prepared that universal health care will be of bad quality – just to satisfy the basic needs. Expect long queues. Expect non-polite doctors.”
    I get that sort of health care now, and I have to pay $200 a month plus copays for it.

  48. who ate my avocado
    Posted December 14, 2008 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    catnmus said: “There is still the fact that women only make 70 cents for every dollar that men make.”
    This is an often-quoted statistic, but I don’t think it means what people think it means. The implication is that women make only 70 cents for every dollar that men make *in the same job.* This not the case. That statistic is saying that the average salaries of ALL women are 70% of the average salaries of ALL men. This can be explained by the fact that men and women tend to pursue different careers.

    Well, your anecdotal experience is all great and shit, but unfortunately, women still earn less when occupation is controlled for. In 2001, the GAO also reported that even accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, race, marital status and job tenure, women still earned an average of 80 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
    Also, the problem is compounded by the fact that when women enter a field, the wages typically go down, and when women have a baby their wages go down but a man’s go up when his partner gives birth. Plus, women are more likely to get penalized when asking for more pay. So no, the 70 percent (or, as I’ve heard, 76 percent) statistic doesn’t control for occupation, etc., but even when it is controlled for, women still make less and are penalized for dumb shit that men don’t get penalized for.

  49. susanb
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    our health insurance definitely has problems. there is no doubt about this. I hate that women have to go through this.
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  50. monicafalllia
    Posted September 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    this is not fair at all. Stop this stupid penalties.
    luxury shopping deluxe cardfor nyc shopping in New York stores

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