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First Lady Michelle Obama makes an impassioned and practical appeal to women on the iVillage website to support the Obama administration’s push for health care reform. She begins by recounting the story of her daughter, Sasha’s, brush with meningitis and follows up with a heart wrenching interview with a two time cancer survivor who can’t afford necessary screenings. This short but effective video also includes an interview with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius who explains that women pay more for health insurance than men do.
This is news to me and not good news, either.
Apparently, the insurance industry charges females more than males because we use more medical services. Insurance companies like Humana, Aetna, UnitedHealth and Anthem charge women up to 49% more for the exact same plan. In most of the articles I read insurance company representatives explained that women are more likely to seek preventative care and incur costs due to pregnancy.
From the NY Times article, “Thomas T. Noland Jr., a senior vice president of Humana, said: “Premiums for our individual health insurance plans reflect claims experience — the use of medical services — which varies by gender and age. Females use more medical services than males, and this difference is most pronounced in young adults.”
In addition, Mr. Noland said, “Bearing children increases other health risks later in life, such as urinary incontinence, which may require treatment with medication or surgery.”
So, women pay more because they are likely to bear children. Hhhmm…well, maybe we should just stop having children and bring down the cost of health care exponentially across the board.
Women are, in effect, penalized for seeking preventative care and for advancing the human race. As such, women are far less likely to have affordable health care coverage. In fact, a recent study by The Commonwealth Fund found that “overall, seven of 10 working-age women, or an estimated 64 million women, have no health insurance coverage or inadequate coverage, medical bill or debt problems, or problems accessing needed health care because of cost.”
So, should we support substantial health care reform or do away with this whole “having babies” thing altogether? Wonder what Thomas T. Noland Jr’s mom would say.