Insuring Your Health

Health Insurance Prices For Women Set To Drop

By Michelle Andrews

July 17th, 2012, 3:03 PM

Any woman who has bought health insurance on her own probably didn’t find herself humming the old show tune, “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” That’s because more than 90 percent of individual plans charge women higher premiums than men for the same coverage, a practice known as gender rating.

Women spend $1 billion more annually on their health insurance premiums than they would if they were men because of gender rating, according to a¬ recent report¬†by the National Women’s Law Center.

Under the health care overhaul, the¬†practice is banned¬†starting in 2014. But according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s¬†April health tracking poll, only 35 percent of people are aware of this fact. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Like or loathe the recent Supreme Court decision that the law is constitutional, most people support leveling the premium playing field for women and men. Overall, 6 in 10 people have a favorable view of that provision, according to the poll, including 74 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans.

Insurers charge women more because they tend to be¬ bigger consumers of health care¬†than men, in part because they’re the ones who get pregnant and give birth.

The health law permits insurers to vary premiums¬ based on four factors: individual vs. family enrollment, age, where the insured people live and tobacco use. That formula will be a substantial change over current practice under which, for example, the NWLC report found that more than half of individual plans charged a 40-year-old woman who doesn’t smoke more than a 40-year-old man who does.

5 Responses to “Health Insurance Prices For Women Set To Drop”

  1. Mary D. says:

    Wonder of wonders! Gee, I guess the sky really isn’t falling after all! Premiums are set to drop for women because of Obamacare? Gee, I guess Tea Party Republicans had better go back to the drawing board, huh? Fact is, women have been getting a raw deal for decades with regard to paying more in health care premiums than a man and Republicans want to keep it that way. Why else would they want the new health reform law repealed? Any woman that votes Republican is a complete moron. Republicans want to keep women in their place like they do in Alabama and Mississippi and Kentucky. If Republicans could have their way, they’d take away a woman’s right to vote, keep them barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen where they belong. Women need to stop being so stupid and start seeing which party really stands up for their equal rights. The GOP is waging a war on women and the proof is that health insurance companies have been charging women more for their health care coverage and Republicans support repealing Obamacare to allow the health insurance companies to return to these unfair policies.

  2. Henri says:

    Many pertinent facts purposely omitted here:

    1. Costs for women will only go down to the extent gender rating affected costs. Of course, the headline could have just as easily read “premiums for men to go up,” but that would have been politically incorrect. It is interesting that it is OK for life insurance companies to have lower life insurance costs for women because their claims are lower, but not OK for health insurance companies to do the same for men.

    2. Overall insurance costs will go up for most women substantially because the other effects of ObamaCare, like the premium tax, the medical device tax, no underwriting (i.e. no discounts for healthy women), and very few age bands, will drive premiums through the roof. This happened in Kentucky in the 1990s when they did the same thing. A recent study said premium costs will go up more than 30% for 59% of individual insurance policyholders in Wisconsin for all these reasons (and that includes women).

    Much to the chagrin of those hoping for it to be otherwise, there is no free lunch. Of course, this does not fit with the Kaiser/Democrat line and thus none of it is mentioned in the article.

  3. Ray says:

    Insurance is about risk management, the risk of claims (and the cost of those claims) is higher for women than men in general, it has nothing to do with politics, discrimination, or keeping women “barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen”.

    In auto coverage, it’s the exact opposite. Men get more tickets and get into more accidents (in general) than women and are charged accordingly.

    In life coverage, men are also charged more (because women live longer and are less likely to suffer an “accidental death or dismemberment”).

    This is MATH. Risk Management is an arm of statistics, there is a mathematical equation that produces all of these rates. These rates are not made up or pulled out of thin air, they are a direct reflection of risk experienced by carriers.

    The way the law is written, it implies that risk will be spread among a larger population, the individual mandate makes a “community” rating system for individuals a viable option. Those enjoying low rates will see an increase, those seeing high rates will see a decrease, but we will all end up on some median level that reflects the risk of the community as a whole. Then we just get discriminated on by zipcode =)

  4. Annee says:

    For most of my adult life, I have gotten health insurance through my employer. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, or health condition or history had the same options, paid the same premium for the same plan. I was unaware of the individual market and its practices of denying coverage to those w/pre-existing conditions and charging women more until the debate over health care began several years ago.

    I have a niece that is self-employed and raising a young son. She is a responsible person, so carries an “individual” health insurance plan for both of them. Each year her premium and deductible have increased despite submitting few claims. It‚Äôs becoming a financial hardship for her. If my premiums increase because of the ACA so that working families like my niece‚Äôs can have access to affordable insurance on the state exchanges and not be charged more because their families are headed by a woman — than so be it. To me, it‚Äôs a matter of fairness.

    I’d rather see Medicare for All, but getting the ACA passed was hard enough . . .

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