Buyer Beware…If You’re a Woman Buying Health Insurance

Let’s face it, we’ve always known that when it comes to the family’s health, women are the gatekeepers but did you know she’s paying the lion’s share for that privilege?  I was pretty shocked to learn from an article in last week’s New York Times that women pay more for health insurance than men…a fact that is completely counter-intuitive.  And, unfair.  Women often have healthier habits than men, for example, they eat more fruit and vegetables and less red meat than men. Yet, in many states, insurers simply charge women more to have health coverage.  In one state, women pay 31 percent more than what a same-aged man pays for the same coverage. Under yet another plan, nonsmoking women pay more than male smokers of the same age for the same coverage.      

Some insurers use extremely faulty logic for why they charge women more.  They say that women use more health services. Women are more likely than men to visit doctors, get regular checkups, take prescription drugs and have certain chronic illnesses. And, for that we are penalized? 

Yet, women outlive men by about five to six years.  Some people attribute this to the stressful life of the working man.  Really?  The women I know work as hard and deal with as much (if not more) stress than the men I know.  So, why isn’t there a decline in the mortality gap?  Could it be that the reason women live longer is because they are using health services at a greater pace than men?

Logic is lost on the sexist health insurers but at least three of the areas in which women use more health services have been shown to reduce healthcare costs.  Visiting physicians, getting regular checkups and using prescription drugs have been shown to prevent expensive and debilitating health issues.  Smart insurers know that encouraging rather than limiting the best use of health resources, saves money! 

As the new health care laws come into effect, this gender reporting will diminish but until then ladies, visit the doctor, take your meds and remind your insurer that we are pretty good comparison shoppers…and we won’t pay more.

 Gender Gap Persists in Cost of Health Insurance - New York Times
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