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Friday, October 31, 2008

Ladies: Sarah Palin and John McCain Do Not Care About Your Uterus

posted by on October 31 at 17:06 PM

Or your ovaries, or your cervix, or your general health, for that matter. From Jezebel:

According to a study by the Times, women in the individual insurance market — the one McCain wants us to get our health insurance from if he becomes President — pay significantly higher premiums throughout their working lives than men do. In cases from Colorado to Florida to Ohio (swing states all!) women could expect to pay between 22 and 49 percent more than their male counterparts. […] And, according to insurers, there’s one basic reason: women use preventative care.

In general, insurers say, they charge women more than men of the same age because claims experience shows that women use more health care services. They are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription medications and to have certain chronic illnesses.

Oh, the same insurance company apologists try out the whole load of shit that it’s about the expenses of being the ones that push out the babies, but even in states that allow women to opt out of pregnancy coverage, women still pay significantly more. Like a woman in the article, in fact, I don’t have medical coverage if for some reason my multiple birth control methods fail:

Crystal D. Kilpatrick, a healthy 33-year-old real estate agent in Austin, Tex., said: “I’ve delayed having a baby because my insurance policy does not cover maternity care. If I have a baby, I’ll have to pay at least $8,000 out of pocket.’

Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, also points out that, the differential in pricing based on gender, McCain’s tax credit for purchasing health insurance — $2,500 for you single ladies out there — will actually erode in value faster for women than men.

In the meantime, insurance professionals have one good reason not to make insurance pools gender-neutral:

Cecil D. Bykerk, president of the Society of Actuaries, a professional organization, said that if male and female premiums were equalized, women would pay less but “rates for men would go up.” Mr. Bykerk, a former executive vice president of Mutual of Omaha, said, “If maternity care is included as a benefit, it drives up rates for everybody, making the whole policy less affordable.”

Oh, well, gosh, Cecil, we wouldn’t want to deny men the benefit of really low-priced health care just so our health insurance, that covers of the furtherance of the species, is remotely affordable or obtainable! Have to keep that Viagra cheap for you! Luckily, the head insurance regulator in Maine — probably through her use of preventative care — has a few more brain cells functioning than old Cecil:

Mila Kofman, the insurance superintendent in Maine [where they prohibit gender discrimination in the individual insurance market], said: “There’s a strong public policy reason to prohibit gender-based rates. Only women can bear children. There’s an expense to that. But having babies benefits communities and society as a whole. Women should not have to bear the entire expense.”

The McCain/Palin health care plan for women: No birth control, no abortion, and certainly no help for the kids you bring into the world because you shouldn’t have been having sex in the first place and anyway children are a gift.

RSS icon Comments


Any females who are height weight proportional can get a cervical exam and deep probe from Dr. Bailo of Kent, completely FREE this month with purchase of beverage (bring a six pack).

Posted by John Bailo | October 31, 2008 5:13 PM

What, you expect consistency from people who think telling LIES and STEALING are following God's teachings?

They make Pirates look good.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 31, 2008 5:14 PM

Thanks for this Erica. I heart Jezebel, and I heart you.

Posted by Precipice | October 31, 2008 5:19 PM

So, I guess you want to increase girls' car insurance so it matches boys, too?

Posted by MR. Language Person | October 31, 2008 5:21 PM


Posted by MR. Language Person | October 31, 2008 5:22 PM

It's not clear to me which grave injustice ECB and the Jezebel-ites are complaining about here:

(1) Women do, on average, cost insurance companies more, whether because of reproductive health costs or just because they visit doctors more. But it is nonetheless wrong for insurance companies to charge them more, because insurance should be a social service, not a business.

(2) Women do not, on average, cost insurance companies more, but insurance companies nonetheless charge them more because they hate women. They can get away with this because no insurance companies have noticed that they could profitably win customers by undercutting their competitors.

Which one is it?

Posted by David Wright | October 31, 2008 5:46 PM

Health insurance isn't insurance, it is subsidized medical care.

Insurance is for what you don't expect to happen. If health "insurance" covered the unexpected tragedies it would be pretty equal in cost for gender. It might even be cheaper for women, who are, as a group, less likely to break their leg skateboarding down Mt. Rainier.

Employer subsidized health care disguised as "insurance" is an early 20th century anachronism unique to the United States. I hope no universal health care proposal from Congress continues to expect employers to contribute anything. Tell the unions and the business interests they will no longer have a stake in the end result and the negotiating for 100% coverage for every American becomes 10x easier.

Posted by StC | October 31, 2008 6:04 PM

I fail to understand why anyone would think that women should be expected to foot 100% bill for things such as birth control and pregnancy expenses when men are 50% of the reason for these needs. On what planet does it make sense that men should owe nothing toward expenses that they are responsible for creating? This is a backwards, backwards country.

Posted by Queen_of_Sleaze | October 31, 2008 6:07 PM

Insurance companies consider children a "lifestyle" choice....just like a homo's domestic partner! Also, abortions are elective surgery like nose jobs!

Posted by yucca flower | October 31, 2008 6:08 PM

Insurance companies consider children a "lifestyle" choice....just like a homo's domestic partner! Also, abortions are elective surgery like nose jobs!

Posted by Y.F. | October 31, 2008 6:08 PM

crap. sorry about the double post.

Posted by yucca flower | October 31, 2008 6:09 PM

Actually, David Wright, I think you've inadvertently hit on the central problem with our country's healthcare system: It relegates public health to a for-profit system that is inherently predisposed to provide the least possible care for the greatest possible price. Many people actually do believe it's immoral to deny medical care to people in urgent need simply because it is profitable to do so.

Unfortunately, because we already have this model, it is almost impossible to leave it, in spite of the clear advantages of the single-payer systems most European and Commonwealth countries enjoy. And this is largely due to the efforts of people of your ideological stripe who, evidently, put the primacy of business profits above all other concerns, including society's prevailing interest in not letting people die of preventable illnesses just because they are poor. (For example.)

I know you were being sarcastic, but letting grandma die so an insurance company can make a few extra bucks does in fact seem like a grave injustice.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 31, 2008 6:14 PM

Flamingbanjo @ 12: That's a perfectly legitimate point of view. What I want people, like you and ECB, who hold that point of view to realize is:

(a) The injustice of this price difference depends upon your conception of medical insurance as a social service. You should not expect someone who does not share that view of medical care to regard the price difference as unjust.

(b) Assuming your point of view, this injustice really has nothing to do with sex descrimination. The injustice of the male/female price difference is just a special case of the the injustice that anyone need pay for medical care at all. It's not the insurance companies that are doing something wrong, but the government, by not socializing health care.

Posted by David Wright | October 31, 2008 6:42 PM
It's not the insurance companies that are doing something wrong, but the government, by not socializing health care.

I guess as long as the working definition of "doing something wrong" doesn't include doing something patently immoral that happens to be legal, then we agree. However since the insurance companies are probably the number one thing standing between Americans and affordable, universal health care I choose to hold them at least partially accountable. If they get to exercise their First Amendment rights by spending billions of dollars to lobby the government to protect their business model, I get to exercise mine by futilely raging against their profiteering asses.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 31, 2008 6:54 PM

Palin hasn't a clue about health care costs, since her family gets it free as Native Alaskans. And ole McCain is on the dole as a military vet.

Posted by eliza | October 31, 2008 7:26 PM

don't try to put hmo s out of business, and we'll get further with universal health care in this country. they are very good at administering health care plans, but they shouldn't be determining and delivering them. the gov't should just hire them to do the admin. part. this was the conclusion my friend reached--the one who wrote ca. state senator kuehl's healthcare bill. but kuehl wouldn't go for it--kneejerk lefty that she is, and the bill died.

Posted by ellarosa | October 31, 2008 8:10 PM

I don't give a rat's ass about a chick's cervix. I only care about what leads to it.

And that the chick does her kegels so her beave is nice and tight.

Posted by Frank Sinclair | November 1, 2008 1:39 AM

Does 17 qualify for comment removal?

Posted by Jen | November 1, 2008 6:24 AM

@18 - Yep.

Given the tone of his post, it's unlikely that Mr. Sinclair gets anywhere near "a chick's beave", tight or otherwise. People mock what they fear. Mr. Sinclair fears the almighty beave--that's right, I said almighty, we all get here through the portal of the beave, although I prefer the term cooter. His comment reflects the power the cooter exercises over him. He doesn't like it, so he needs to be disrespectful to feel like he's free of it. Nice try.

Posted by know-it-all | November 1, 2008 11:20 AM

Cooter Power!! WooHoo!!!!!

Posted by merry | November 1, 2008 11:35 AM

Forget about maternity for a moment; if McCain has his way, lots of relatively healthy women women won't be able to get any health insurance at all. In states with weak insurance regulation, companies in the individual market are free to turn down applicants for any reason whatsoever. (There have been documented cases of folks being denied health insurance just for having allergies.)

The McCain plan would allow these predatory out-of-state operators to enter the market in more sensibly regulated places like Washington. Younger, healthier people would then flock to the cheaper out-of-state provider, while the older and sicker people would have no choice but to stay with their local provider. Eventually, the remaining pool of local rate payers would be too sick to cover their own expenses, and the local providers would be driven out of business. The people too sick to qualify for the out-of-state insurance would no longer have access to health insurance at any price.

Posted by Furcifer | November 1, 2008 12:20 PM

Wait a minute. Even aside from whether or not healthcare should be a social service...if women opt-out of childbirth coverage (many of us have no plans to procreate ever) they still pay more! How is that just? Women get checkups more often, and should pay LESS for doing so. There should be a "regular checkup" discount like you get on your auto insurance for being a good driver. Women pay less for auto insurance because they don't drive as recklessly as men, right?

Posted by threnody | November 1, 2008 1:22 PM

The basic definition of insurance is that it is a form of managing the risk of contingent losses. Contingent in that you don't KNOW that they will happen to you, although the ODDS of them happening can be calculated with varying degrees of accuracy.

Examples: Your house accidently burning down; your car accidentally getting in a wreck; your leg accidentally getting broken on the ski slopes; your appendix becoming inflamed; your brain developing a tumor.

DECIDING to burn your house down is a PREDICTABLE loss. Even if you had a darned good reason to burn your house down, you can't seriously expect your homeowner's policy to cover the loss.

Having a baby under our current laws is entirely a matter of choice, as is buying a more expensive health insurance policy that covers maternity care.

Having an annual check-up is good practice, just as checking your fire alarms and keeping fire extinguishers handy is good practice, but those are also matters of choice and true insurance policies don't consider the costs of those things "losses" although they might subsidize them if doing that is proven to prevent losses.

The problem is that most employer-paid policies are no longer true insurance policies, but combine insurance coverage against unpredictable loss with pre-paid services for predictable expenses and discretionary choices. The consequence is a relentless ratcheting up of discretionary uses of health care services so as not to "waste" the ever increasing premiums, in a vicious circle.

That is a problem that will only be exacerbated by any single-payer system, and with price no longer the primary rationing method, other rationing methods must arise. Where single-payer systems are or have been used,the most common rationing methods are inconvenience, delay, lower quality, and arbitrary bureaucratic decision-making.

This is pretty much how we ration health care for poor people in this country now. A single-payer system will spread those methods to the working class and middle class. The rich, as always, will still be able to buy their way out of them.

As someone who has happily maintained a very affordable individual catastrophic (i.e. "true") health insurance policy for more than 30 years and budgeted for my reproductive choices and predictable health care needs just as I do for my car tires and household repairs, I do not look forward to the decline a single-payer system will bring to my own health care.

Whether it is better for most of us to share the miseries of a single-payer system or for some of us to be left out of the full advantages that our (semi-)private system gives us now is the real question.

I'm self-interested enough to prefer price rationing to the other methods, particularly since as a middle income person, my money payments under a single-payer system are likely to remain the same or be higher anyway, and I don't see how it really helps a poor person that I will be waiting in the same long lines with them for health care services.

As for "gender discrimination," I assume it's simply an artifact of risk calculations. If women in the aggregate use more health services than men, premium pricing should reflect that. The fact that using those services keeps them alive longer means it's worth it, right? Why should men pay higher premiums for something they don't benefit from?

Posted by AnnJo | November 2, 2008 10:11 AM

Nice series of posts - AnnJo, will you get me organized?


By the way - I think catastrophic coverage should be the beginning of national care.

Even with assets, 20 days of intensive care with many big time health crises situations, will drive almost any middle class family into bankruptcy

I can handle 3- to 5 thou a year in smaller needs --- but not 250,000.00 in one fell swoop..... easy to do in intensive care and major efforts to save lives.

Posted by John | November 2, 2008 10:56 AM

Sarah Palin and John McCain don't care about womens uterus'? Oh, my dear, do NOT point fingers at them. How can you say they don't care? You are a selfish pig.

Posted by sarah | November 2, 2008 1:36 PM

John - Learning to budget for new tires, etc., is part of growing up. You'll get there.

20 days of intensive care would cost me my deductible ($1,750 or about the cost of a daily latte for a year) and 20% of the first $15,000 or so above that. Total out of pocket about $5,500. Unless people have been consistently living beyond their means, this is not enough to drive most people in this area into bankruptcy.

My Dad spent almost four months as a hospital patient in the last year of his life, being treated aggressively for a recurring cancer. Total charges were over $350,000 (this was 10 years ago). Total that was his and his wife's responsibility - $6,600. Our "horrible" American health care system kept him alive for 12 mostly cancer-free years after diagnosis (4 remissions, 5 recurrences = death at age 81), at a cost to him of less than the cost of a new car.

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