Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Women Paying for Health Insurance

I'm so terribly offended by this phenomenon that I can't quite make enough sense of it. Per this article, women are charged more for health insurance than men, at least on individual policies. Group policies have enough people pooled together that the insurance company can spread the "risk" among everyone, thus negating the need to charge different rates for each insured person.

But insurance companies are in business to make money. Their actuaries crunched the numbers that concluded women are riskier to insure. Their results lead Blue Shield to deem "Hack and all other women are somehow more accident-prone, or more likely to break a bone, or more susceptible to costly ailments."

Come on? How many women do you know that walk around in casts? MetaDaddy broke his collar bone, and spent much of his childhood recovering from head dings and other random boy mishaps. Prior to my c-section, my worst injury was a bump on the head from a flying flute bumping me. Who was at the other end of the flute? Some clumsy guy. Go figure.

I was curious to know why we women are so dangerous. I came up with a few theories, and the article countered each one. Keep in mind that the article is referencing Blue Shield's policies in particular, although they do throw in some data from other insurance companies as a point of comparison.
  • It's not about pregnancy because the policy in question doesn't cover pregnancy and maternity care.
  • It's not about seeking more preventative care because that should make them better insurance risks. Someone in the article questioned whether or not the actuaries are assessing how much insurance is used vs. true risk. Interesting point.
  • It's not a "women live longer" issue. As the article points out, on average, women pay more than men up until the age of 60, at which point the trend reverses and men are charged more than women. That said, men are "viewed as a lesser medical liability than women, who live longer on average because they tend to eat right, exercise more frequently and take better care of themselves." How contradictory can you get?
So, keep that in mind if you're shopping around for an insurance policy and you're a young, healthy woman. Even though you're likely a lesser risk than the clumsy slob down the hall who snowboards once a year and hasn't seen his ankles since Y2K was all the rage, you might still be paying more than him for the same insurance coverage.

4 comments:

oddlyme said...

Oh yes, I saw this and I am so angry. Angry.

Then throw in some companies paying for viagra and not birth control and why I don't explode in flames - or any female for that matter - is a miracle.

Lets hope in the next four years that changes.

MetaMommy said...

That's an excellent point. This is just one of the many injustices. And then all women are accused of mismanaging their money, when in reality, we get the short end of the stick on so many counts. UGH!!!

Monica said...

This article just came out today that says men DON'T live longer than women - in that case women ARE a higher insurance risk because they live longer - thereby requiring more care.

http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2008/07/01/03/1747-66/index.xml

Very interesting topic in MA where insurance is required, so you're more likely to see folks shopping for individual policies.

Twila said...

Good post.