According to new data from insurance companies and online brokers, there is a new gap in the cost of healthcare for men and women of the same age; women are paying much more than men for individual policies providing the same coverage. Some insurance executives were surprised at this disparity in which women may annually pay hundreds of dollars more than men. Insurers argue this is the case due to the fact that women in the age ranges in question use more healthcare than men, especially in the childbearing years. However, part of this argument cannot be the case since women are also paying more for insurance that does not include maternity care. Insurers counter-argue women are also more likely to get regular checkups, visit physicians and take prescription medications, thus costing the companies more money. Also, some states require insurers provide assistance for pregnancy complications even if maternity care is not included in the policy.
These new findings come amid anxiety about the weakening economy. More and more people, especially those that are unemployed, are shopping for individual insurance policies since their previous jobs provided coverage. The disparities are very evident in the premiums charged by such major insurers as Humana, Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Anthem. Humana, for example, charges a thirty-year-old woman thirty-one percent more than a man of the same age. The Vice President for Humana stated the prices reflect the information that women use medical services more frequently than men.
Although women are more expensive, the Equal Opportunity Commission says employers cannot charge women more than men if both are receiving the same benefits. Many believe that since only women can have babies, and since this action benefits society, women should not have to bear the entire expense.