Sample Paper on Gender Inequality in Healthcare Finance
Gender inequality is a persistent subject in the U.S. The inequality is widespread in areas such as salary and employment as well as healthcare cost. The gender inequalities in healthcare finance have seen women pay more than men for similar health coverage putting them at a disadvantage (Pear n.p.). Despite paying more than what men pay, women still have more unmet healthcare needs, a factor that continues to put them at health risk in comparison with their male counterparts. However, what are the underlying factors for this persistent problem, and what are some of the proposed solutions?
In a study of online health insurance brokers, Pear found that women pay more for similar insurance coverage than their male counterparts do. The research conducted among insurance brokers and online brokers reported that for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, women pay $375 a month, an amount that is 31 percent more than what males of the same age taking the same coverage pay (Pear n.p.). Similarly, 40-year-old women taking the HumanaOne policy pay $196 a month, which is 53 percent less than $128 premium paid by males taking the same policy (Doll n.p.).
By law, the bulk of the states allow private insurance companies to charge premiums on health coverage based on their gender rating. Currently, only 14 states have limited or moved to limit gender rating as the basis for calculating insurance premiums (Doll n.p.). Therefore, although civil rights laws have been instrumental in preventing employers offering group benefit plans from having higher premiums for women than men for similar benefits, this law has not found its way in the individual insurance market. Moreover, insurers vary the premium rates according to the age of the insured, with older women paying less than younger women do for the insurance coverage.
In providing an explanation for the difference in premiums between men and women, many insurers have claimed that women tend to use health care more and have a higher likelihood of visiting doctors for regular checkups. Moreover, women also tend to have some chronic illnesses making their visits to the doctors more regular than that of men (Doll n.p.; Pear n.p.). The higher charges from insurers emanate from insurance claims, which put women aged 19-55 as the largest visitors to healthcare facilities in comparison to men.
Aside from regular doctor’s visits, a probable cause for the difference in premiums between men and women is the fact that women tend to live longer than men, largely because the women tend to take better care of themselves than men do. Given the routine visits and checkups, women, therefore, tend to prevent huge insurance costs in the end, a fact that insurers see as a bane to them (Doll n.p.).
Maternity care further makes matters worse for women given the additional cost of the premium that comes with the cover. Largely, insurers offer maternity cover as an optional benefit to the women; however, some offer it as a rider although this comes with an addition to the premium paid by the women (Pear n.p.). Away from maternity care, prescription drugs from regular visits to the doctor do not cover birth control. Birth control prescriptions require the women to pay more for the drugs, in essence, insinuating that the fact that they are women may require them to buy the birth control drugs.
The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, however, promises fairer premiums for women, especially with the scraping of gender ratings. With the implementation of the law, insurers will have to provide coverage for similar rates without the gender ratings that saw women in some states pay 81 percent more in premiums that their male counterparts for the same cover (Pear n.p.). With the implementation of the law, therefore, insurers will essentially be banned from charging different premiums based on gender (Luhby n.p.). Additionally, the law will prohibit insurers from refusing to cover people with preexisting conditions who had previously found it difficult to get insurance cover.
While the law banning gender-based ratings is a step in the right direction, there are issues that also need addressing in the health industry promoting gender inequalities. While male reproductive health services are part of the package in standard health care, women’s contraception has remained out of the women health care package. It is important to address such inequities as a way of bringing sanity to the health care industry and addressing women issues. Moreover, the industry should work to have gender-specific targets that are measurable, include health sector stakeholders as well as have management incentives for reaching the targets. That way, the management will be at task and have enough motivation to attain the gender-centric targets.
Inequalities in the health sector persist despite the passage of the law that looked to stem the gender inequalities. While implementing the law is a good step towards ending inequality, it is necessary to build consensus among stakeholders on the necessity of removing the inequalities. In their current state, the inequalities harm women and prevent them from accessing basic healthcare.
Doll, Jen. “The Inherent Inequality of Health Care for Women.” The Atlantic, www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/03/inherent-inequality-health-care- women/330415/. Accessed 1 March 2017.
Luhby, Tami. “Who Will Pay More Under Obamacare? Young Men.” CNN Money, money.cnn.com/2013/05/14/news/economy/obamacare-premiums/. Accessed 1 March 2017.
Pear, Robert. “Gender Gap Persists in Cost of Health Insurance.” The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/health/policy/women-still-pay-more-for-health-insurance- data-shows.html. Accessed 1 March 2017.