Are health insurance premiums for men and women set equal for all? Not yet.
Right off the bat, Women spend $1 billion more annually on health insurance premiums than men for the same health insurance plans. This term is coined, “Gender Rating”. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s health tracking poll, a minority 35% of people are aware that gender rating is taking place.
Today, this leads to more than 90% of women’s individual health insurance plans versus the same plans for men.
Thankfully, this practice of gender rating is set to end under healthcare reform in 2014. This provision of the law is supported by 6 in 10 people according to the poll by the National Women’s Law Center, including 74 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans.
Why do insurers charge more for women?
Insurers practice gender rating because of maternity care, which makes them larger consumers of health care because of pregnancy and birth.
Health insurance premiums should be based on four factors – permitted by the health care reform law:
- Individual or Family Enrollement
- Tobacco Use
The most striking finding? The NWLC report found that more than half of individual plans charged a 40-year-old woman who doesn't smoke more than a 40-year-old man who does.
What impact does this make for current women’s health insurance preferences?
Without health insurance, the unfortunate option is foregoing visits to the doctor for even basic health services. Simply, the cost is too high.
Of American women ages 19 to 64, 43% skipped seeing a doctor or didn't take medicine due to costs, according to a 2010 survey by the Commonwealth Fund highlighted in a study released last week, which compared the U.S to 11 other countries that unlike the U.S., had universal health insurance coverage. The U.S. had the highest percentage of women skipping the doctor.
Further, only 7 % of British women and 17 % of Canadian and French women skipped out on health care that year due to costs. In all 11 industrialized countries studied, the median percentage of women skipping care due to costs was 17%, versus the 19% average.
Even for women with health insurance plans in the U.S., the U.S still had the highest percentage of women who avoided doctor visits because of health costs in 2009 and 2010. 32 % of insured women went without care between 2009 and 2010, versus 77 % of uninsured American women who went without care.
The good news is that the health reform law is aimed at leveling the playing field for fair health insurance premiums for all.