Monday, June 30, 2008
Ezra Klein reports on the findings of Jon Cohn regarding the health insurance industry and women He writes,
Jon Cohn peers into insurance price differentials and comes back with a depressing, but unsurprising, finding: Insurers charge women more than they charge men. I'd add to this that studies show the effect is all the more pronounced when you're dealing with health savings accounts and other forms of high-deductible coverage. A Harvard study from a year or so back ran the numbers and found that men under 45 racked up about $500 in yearly, out-of-pocket costs, while women spent closer to $1,200. Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, the lead author of the study, summed up the findings starkly. "When an employer switches all his employees into a consumer-driven health plan, it's the same as giving all the women a $1,000 pay cut, on average, because women on average have $1,000 more in health costs than men."
Here's why: For most of their lives, men and women use health care very differently. Men seek episodic care: I sawed off my thumb, fell off a mountain, tried to stop an SUV with my Civic. . . . Conversely, women seek a lot of routine care. Check-ups, pap-smears, reproductive health care, etc. The expenses are small, but they're regular. So when you move towards health coverage where small, regular expenses come out of pocket, you're erecting financial barriers to the type of care sought by women. . . .