The Ladies Apropos of My Morning News Two Days Ago
posted by June 26 at 16:19 PMon
One of the stories I mentioned was about how Blue Shield is raising premiums for female members—even though the insurer doesn’t cover pregnancy and maternity care.
Perhaps this is partly because women are more likely to seek preventive care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But this should make them better insurance risks. After all, they’re proactively working to stay healthy.
And isn’t that exactly what insurers encourage people to do?
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Alice Wolfson of United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based advocacy group. “The insurers aren’t assessing risk. They’re assessing how much healthcare is used, even when it’s preventive treatment.”
Anyway, some commenters seemed to think that penalizing women for living longer and taking better care of themselves was basically the same thing as charging men more for car insurance because they’re bigger accident risks. I didn’t address it further at the time, but to my pleasant surprise, one of the ladies at Jezebel did just today. Turns out charging women more doesn’t just make no sense—it makes no sense in a whole shit-ton of different ways. For example, insurers are charging women more based not on HOW they use it, but WHETHER they use it—a decision that actually costs them more in the long run.
So, if you’re a young single woman on birth control who goes to the doctor when you have a mild case of bronchitis instead of going to the emergency room if it becomes pleurisy (a real disease! my friend had it last year) or pneumonia, then you’re supposed to be in better shape price-wise because you’re being cost-efficient. But if insurance companies are pricing insurance based on if you use it — as has happened in other insurance fields, such as homeowner’s insurance — then any usage, even if it’s efficient in the long-term, will ratchet up your costs over time and discourage you from utilizing the very insurance you’re paying for. Gotta love a market failure!
The writer also posits that this ain’t a problem that’s going away any time soon. More and more insurance plans are being marketed specifically to men, “if for no other reason then than 29 percent of women are dependent on someone else’s insurance and only 13 percent of men are.” In fact,
fully half of men are primary insurance holders, while only slight more than a third of women are — meaning even if they’re less than half the population, they’re the population for whom insurance plans will most likely be designed and to whom those plans will most likely be marketed. And then they’ll just charge us extra for all that stuff that guys aren’t using, and because they can.
So even if you’re not technically using it, just having that uterus will cost you extra.
So ladies—in addition to the cost of birth control ($260 a year if you’ve got a $20 copay like I do), the fact that insurance companies won’t let you get more than one pill pack at a time (don’t want the ladies getting all hopped up on progestin!), and the fact that routine preventive care like lab tests at the gynecologist is frequently subject to a large deductible even though it saves the insurance companies money—add this one to your list of Reasons the “Health Care” Industry is Fucking Evil.