Health Insurance and Women, Why pay more?
If you didn't have enough reason to support universal health insurance, the New York Times' article on October 30, 2008 just gave you another one. Headlines read "Women Buying Health Policies Pay a Penalty."
The long and short of the article is that, in most states, insurance companies charge women more for an individual health insurance policy than they charge men. Up to 49% more! The justification is that women incur child bearing costs and that they use more health services than men. What is the problem with this logic? First, lets take the child-bearing argument. Biologically, having children is a project of a male and a female. Since women bear the responsibility for carrying the fetus prior to birth, maybe we should place the cost burden of the birth on the men? That makes more sense to me than putting all the burden on women.
I can hear the complaints -- why should all men bear the extra cost when many of them are not married or having children? But that same complaint goes for women who are paying the higher costs but aren't having children. This is insurance, which means there is a decision to spread the cost of having children to some group of people. The question is who should that group be. It makes more sense to spread it to all persons (i.e. universal health insurance) as both sexes are involved in incurring the costs. Also, having children benefits all of us even if they aren't our children.
But logical arguments aside, shouldn't health care be a right of all Americans regardless of your race, gender, or age? And if it is a right, shouldn't we all share in insuring that everyone has it. This isn’t about what is logical, it is about what is moral. What is right. As a society we don't want some people being able to get health care while others, for lack of money, can't get the care they need. Why should individual women bear more of that cost. Already women loose earnings to care for children and other family members. Women still are paid less than men. The result is that women as a group are poorer than men. So why would we allow insurance companies to divide their markets into men and women and make the women pay more? It just isn't right.
Ellen A. Bruce