Women Should Pay More for Health Care

Women's costs are higher, and they live longer, yet Obamacare will charge men the same for health-insurance premiums

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The Obama Administration is about to spend $684 million on a public relations and enrollment campaign to persuade young, uninsured Americans to buy government-approved Obamacare plans.  In order to be successful, it needs to persuade young men in particular to enroll, but Obamacare requires insurers to charge men the same for their premiums as women in 2014.

This attempt at fairness is anything but. If fairness were really the guiding principle, it would be quite simple: women would pay more for health insurance because women consume more health care.

(MORE: Is There Really a Fertility Crisis?)

First, let’s address the obvious. Women carry and deliver babies. Maternity care is expensive, and a rising number of women are taking on these costs without the help of a husband. (Nearly half of American first-child births occur outside of wedlock.)

But childbearing is not the only reason women’s health costs are higher. There are certain non-sex-related ailments that plague women with more frequency.  When I sustained my second significant injury from running this year, I learned that stress fractures are more common among women. This also goes for strains and sprains. Women’s bodies tend to be smaller and more prone to wear and tear.

Yet women also tend to live longer. Life expectancy for American women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men. That’s great news for women who get to enjoy more life, but it’s also five more years of costly doctor’s visits and treatments.  Men have a shorter lifespan, in part because they are three times more likely to die in accidents (13 times more likely to be killed while at work) and three times more likely to be murder victims. Unexpected and sudden deaths are tragic, but they are also cheap compared with deaths due to long-term health conditions.  End-of-life care can be the most expensive kind of health care, and women survive to consume more of it.

Women’s greater attentiveness to their own health likely also contributes to their longevity.  Pregnancy and childbearing aside, women seek preventive care and visit doctors more often.  But these additional screenings cost money, and the person receiving the care should pay for it, not other members of her insurance pool (community-rated or not). After all, women may reap the benefits of this behavior by living longer lives; they should also take on the costs.

People are uncomfortable in acknowledging sex differences in health care costs, but they should recognize that those same differences crop up in other markets too.  It’s not discussed as frequently, but sometimes men are the ones paying more for certain purchases, like car insurance. Would it be fair to charge women more for it just to give men a discount?

A better, more equitable solution would be for both men and women to pay for more noncatastrophic health expenditures outside an insurance plan. This is the only way to ensure that individuals — not pools of people — pay for what they consume. But given our current environment that encourages third-party payment, gender-based pricing is a tool that should be available to insurers. If our premiums don’t reflect our risk, our claims or our costs, then some people will be overcharged and others undercharged. The overcharged parties will underinsure, and the undercharged parties will overinsure, perpetuating the problems in our current system.

455 comments
sjtang
sjtang

Men are charged more for auto insurance because of their driving tendencies. Statistics show they are more likely to get into accidents and women have nothing to do with this statistic. However, 100% of all pregnancies involve a male. Women shouldn't be punished for having to bear the next generation. Health insurance is for the benefit of a society; if you look at it at such an short-sighted, individual level, then, yes, it will seem unfair.

ChristieDianeBrown
ChristieDianeBrown

Your argument to me is like saying "African Americans get diabetes and hypertension more often so they should pay more for health care". It's discrimination. 


I just don't believe that being born a woman should mean that I pay more for health care. I believe that is not fair. 

gwingster
gwingster

@ChristieDianeBrown you are stating race, which has very little to do with the debate at hand. Men are charged more for car insurance based on facts that correlate with cost, yet when presented with reasonable suggestion that those who put strain on a system should pay for those cost the response that is had is "It is not fair"? Free birth control for women under certain plans (There are limited options for males, most doctors will deny most men under twenty-five, talk about the right to your own body!) , maternity leave (Which is not enough leave for women, also yes provided by the employer than again so is the insurance under the AHCA) is not presented to men. The cost of health care is ridiculous when wanting to birth a child, yet when people choose to forgo child rearing they still must accept the cost load of those that chose to have children. You are right, it is not fair. I do not mind paying my share or helping those that need a hand, yet if your only defense is "not fair" when asked to accept your share then you have no leg to stand on.

whatthe
whatthe

@ChristieDianeBrown  "I just don't believe that being born a woman should mean that I pay more for health care. I believe that is not fair." 


so in that case, you should believe that male and female drivers should pay the same amount for car insurance? because they dont. males automatically have to pay more for insurance by default, just for being a man, and nobody cares.

RobertGary
RobertGary

Like men paying more for car insurance. I agree with you it's descrimination.

ramm
ramm

Hadley:

That is a pathetic argument considering the other environmental factors that go against women, not only do they bear children, but they make less money no matter what the job, they bear the most mental anguish, and have to live in a patriarchal oppressive society that vides 'equal' tights as impugning an already greatly oppressed gender in any outlet that cracks open, healthcare? Being a woman an promoting this by the numbers game tells me you are one, an idiot, two a sheeple idiot, and three have no real view of the social contract and the utilitarian approach sometimes means latitude for those who are different. A smoker chooses to smoke,  fat people overeat, but women don't choose their gender dit dot.  

TakingUpSpace
TakingUpSpace

@ramm

Re: "but they make less money no matter what the job"

Wrong.

“In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm

That's just one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts.

A thousand laws won't close that gap.

In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap - tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes, the path to a worse condition is paved with good intentions).... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work. 

That's because women's pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.) 

As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands' incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

-accept low wages

-refuse overtime and promotions

-choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html

-take more unpaid days off

-avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)

-work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time instead of full-time (as in the above example regarding physicians)

Any one of these job choices lowers women's median pay relative to men's. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay. 

Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well. 

More in "Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?" at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/



TakingUpSpace
TakingUpSpace

@ramm

Re: "have to live in a patriarchal oppressive society that vides 'equal' tights as impugning an already greatly oppressed gender in any outlet that cracks open"

Wrong. Women as a group outlive men, who die sooner than women of the 13 leading causes of death.

Please be sitting down when you read:

“The Doctrinaire Institute for Women's Policy Research: A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality”

http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/the-doctrinaire-institute-for-womens-policy-research/

ChristieDianeBrown
ChristieDianeBrown

@TakingUpSpace @ramm That's because men use guns, women use pills. Men make sure the job is done whereas women use methods that are less effective. This DOES NOT mean that men's mental anguish is greater than women's. 

icepuck68
icepuck68

@ramm  

First ramm, do some research, women don't get paid less like the rumor that's been going around says. That rumor doesn't compare jobs to jobs, experience to experience, hours to  hours etc..................they simply take a survey of what everybody makes. Comparing a teacher to a pilot or secretary to an engineer doesn't quite work.

Second, men pay more in life insurance and car insurance for reasons. Women should do the same in health insurance. 

TakingUpSpace
TakingUpSpace

@ramm

Re: "they bear the most mental anguish"

Wrong. The male suicide rate is about four times that of the female. And how do YOU measure anguish? 


zionosphere
zionosphere

@ChristieDianeBrown A quick internet search of the suicide stats in countries like Sweden disproves that sort of specious argument. When men commit suicide, it's not a cry for attention.

Women
Women

Hi, For years men have been paid almost double what women are paid for the same job, so if its equal health care costs between men and women then maybe it will give women a chance to financially catch up.


TakingUpSpace
TakingUpSpace

@Women

Re: "For years men have been paid almost double what women are paid for the same job"

That's a lie and you know it.

I repeat:

Probably most women's pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who'd hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

Here's one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

“In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm (See also  http://www.openmarket.org/2013/06/19/president-repeats-false-equal-pay-statistic-claiming-women-earn-77-percent-of-what-men-do/)

A thousand laws won't close that gap.

In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap - tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes, the path to a worse condition is paved with good intentions).... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work. 

That's because women's pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.) 

As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands' incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

-accept low wages

-refuse overtime and promotions

-choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html

-take more unpaid days off

-avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)

-work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time instead of full-time (as in the above example regarding physicians)

Any one of these job choices lowers women's median pay relative to men's. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay. 

Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well. 

More in "Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?" at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/


icepuck68
icepuck68

@Women  

wrong

 If you think this is equal, then you pay the same in life and car insurance. Sound ok?

ElinaMark
ElinaMark

A woman's health is her total well-being, not determined solely by biological factors and reproduction, but also by effects of work load, nutrition, stress, war and migration, among others?

Women's health issues have attained higher international visibility and renewed political commitment in recent decades. While targeted policies and programs have enabled women to lead healthier lives, significant gender-based health disparities remain in many countries. With limited access to education or employment, high illiteracy rates and increasing poverty levels are making health improvements for women exceedingly difficult.

lehman.heather
lehman.heather

Can I just ask why using the healthcare system on a reactionary basis or for catastrophic coverage is considered good economics and using healthcare as preventative medicine is bad? For a myriad of reasons, men use healthcare only if something is really wrong - and a screening would have prevented it from being catastrophic! Also, generally, men will forego medical treatment if they cannot pay....which leads us to again examine what the point of healthcare really is. Is it a luxury for the rich? Hmmm, so many things wrong with this brief article that I wonder how Hadley Heath got to be a senior analyst at all.

ajdoes
ajdoes

@Bumpyboobs @TIMEIdeas - I read a title like this and have to ignore the article because I know I will only become enraged.

ajdoes
ajdoes

@Bumpyboobs @TIMEIdeas true, author thinks women should pick up the tab for maternity costs? he must know where babies come from right?

ramm
ramm

@Ummon You are not an 'equal' to anything female, so your 'opinion' is moot, shut up, moving on.

francois.nguyenc
francois.nguyenc

If I would play into this argument, I could just as easily argue that men take more stupid risks in general, are over represented in physically hazardous employments, and are less health conscious (they see the doctors less, but when they do, it's far more costly). We should decrease cost per use, to encourage use and therefore have a more preventative health care system. If we have a system that negatively targets groups who uses health care more by making them pay for it, then it only encourages a reactive health care system and THAT is a greater cost on society. This doesn't even touch on the argument that I find the suggestion morally wrong the begin with.

TheresaBurleyHughes
TheresaBurleyHughes

There are other groups of people who are disproportionately in need of more healthcare, such as those who live below the poverty line, non-whites, and those with lower levels of education. 

Should we be charging these people more as well? 

People who already suffer negative health outcomes due to marginalization, should we marginalize them further?

As someone who studies and researches health, I cannot even begin to understand how any intelligent person would think charging women higher insurance premiums is a good idea. 

I think @Time has sunk to being controversial strictly for the sake of being controversial. Look how much attention this article is getting. Readership might be up in the short term, but @Time has lost some credibility in my eyes.

TakingUpSpace
TakingUpSpace

@TheresaBurleyHughes

Re: "I cannot even begin to understand how any intelligent person would think charging women higher insurance premiums is a good idea."

Then you agree that men should not be charged higher auto insurance premiums.