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“Still Shelling Out More Than Men”: The High Cost Of Being A Woman

It turns out being a woman is an expensive undertaking. Despite laws on the books meant to prevent companies and firms from charging women more for the same products and services, we’re still shelling out more than men for a variety of things. And we do it on less pay.

A new report out this week from the National Women’s Law Center found that insurance companies have been charging women $1 billion more than men for the same coverage. In fact, in the states that haven’t banned the practice of jacking up prices for women – known as gender rating – women were charged more for 92 percent of the best-selling health plans. The difference can’t be explained by a higher cost of maternity care: even when that care is left out, almost a third of plans charged women at least 30 percent or more, and that care is usually not part of a standard benefits package. Why might insurers decide women are more expensive? Because they tend to use more services – like going to the doctor more often for regular check ups. Damn them being preventative.

Paying higher dollar amounts for similar care isn’t the only way health issues screw women. Nona Willis Aronowitz and Dylan C. Lathrop of GOOD added up the numbers on how much women spend on lady-specific care. The average woman will spend 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy, eventually having two children. With insurance, at the low end, their estimates show that she will end up spending $10,070 on her particular health needs. Those include costs for having a baby, such as gestational diabetes screening ($80), a lactation class ($80), and breast-feeding supplies ($670). It also includes preventative care, such as HPV tests every three years ($260), annual HIV counseling and screening ($1,500), annual pelvic exams ($2,080), and co-pays for hormonal birth control ($5,400).

But health care isn’t the only arena that gets women. As Jezebel reported yesterday, women also end up paying more just for everyday products and needs. Women pay more just to get their shirts dry cleaned (even though a “blouse” and a man’s dress shirt is basically the same thing) and haircuts (our hair’s made of the same stuff, right?). A study from the University of Central Florida found that women’s deodorant costs 30 cents more than men’s – and the only difference is scent. Bigger purchases also cost women more: on average women pay $200 more for a car than a man, and they were about 30 percent more likely to end up with subprime home loans before the crash.

All of this, of course, is paid for with lower income. The gender wage gap stood at 82 cents on the dollar for the same work men do. That gap ends up costing women $431,000 in pay over a 40-year career. In turn, they have a harder time building up assets and saving for retirement, even though they tend to live longer lives.

It seems being a man still gives you a big financial upper hand. With some people talking about women being the richer of the two sexes, we might want to stop and take a look at how much thinner our money has to spread.

 

Bryce Covert, The Nation, March 21, 2012

March 25, 2012 Posted by | Income Gap, Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Reform’s Gifts For Mom: Celebrating Mother’s Day With Healthier Mothers, Mothers-To-Be, And Grandmothers

Mothers care for their children, spouses, and aging parents around the clock. Many moms work full-time jobs on top of caregiving. But who cares for Mom?

This Mother’s Day, moms can celebrate health care reform’s new provisions that help moms, moms-to-be, grandmothers, and their families to get healthy and stay healthy. Here are some of health care reform’s “gifts” that moms can already enjoy, as well as a sneak peek of gifts to come.

Moms

One of the biggest worries for moms is their kids. Kids get sick, get hurt, and were denied health insurance prior to health care reform. But thanks to reform, moms have support whether they have a young child with a preexisting condition or a college graduate whose employer doesn’t cover them. Insurance companies can no longer deny insurance to children with preexisting conditions, and children up to age 26 can stay on their parent’s plan if their employer doesn’t offer coverage.

But reform looks out for Mom, too. The Affordable Care Act provides free screenings of many of women’s biggest health concerns: breast cancer, cervical cancer, blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity.

Paired with improvements in primary care, we know this preventive approach will drastically improve the health of moms and their families. We know, for instance, that regular pap smears increase the likelihood of detecting cervical cancer early and subsequently increasing survival rates.

The bottom line? Free screenings allow doctors and their patients to address health problems earlier and help prevent Mom from getting sick.

And if Mom still gets sick, health care reform provides support there, too. Provisions now prohibit annual and lifetime caps, meaning that a person who is severely or continually ill will not “run out” of insurance.

Moms-to-be

Moms-to-be can look forward to the guarantee that all health plans will cover maternity care for the first time. This is especially exciting since prior to health care reform, 22 states offered no coverage of pregnancy-related costs under any health care. Further, in a study conducted by the National Women’s Law Center, only 13 percent of studied health plans in the individual market provided maternity care.

Maternity coverage will also include preventive and prenatal services. For instance, women considering pregnancy can receive free folic acid supplements while pregnant women can receive free, routine screening for anemia. Taking folic acid previous to getting pregnant and during the first trimester of pregnancy helps prevent birth defects and is essential to the development of the fetal nervous system. Further, pregnant women with iron-deficient anemia are at increased risk of preterm deliveries, delivering babies with a low birth weight, and even fetal death.

Finally, new moms will see additional postnatal benefits. Mothers will receive breastfeeding support such as prenatal and postnatal breastfeeding education and evaluation from trained caregivers. This has proven health benefits for both mothers and their children. Additionally, moms who go back to work will benefit from a private space to breastfeed because employers are now required to provide one.

Grandmothers

Grandmothers can stay stronger for longer with free annual checkups covered by Medicare. The physicals are available to every Medicare beneficiary and they don’t cost a thing.

In addition, other health plans will allow grandmothers to receive preventive care without copays or deductibles. All new plans must include free osteoporosis screeninga disease affecting mainly older women that causes the bones to weaken and severely increases the likelihood of fractures and breaks—for women over 65 and for women at higher risk over age 60.

Finally, provisions in health care reform are working to close the “doughnut hole” in which people enrolled in Medicare’s prescription drug program, often women, are forced to pay a greater share out of pocket for prescription drugs due to a gap in coverage. In the last year Medicare beneficiaries received a $250 rebate. In coming years there will be discounts on brand-name and generic prescription drugs, and provisions will work to make it so by 2020 the doughnut hole will be closed.

Future gifts

While many of these “gifts” to mothers are already in place, more gifts will arrive in the next two-and-a-half years.

For starters, because of new and expanded programs, more moms will have health insurance. These new programs will make it so insurance plans include even more mom and family-friendly services that build on the aforementioned maternity, preventive, and Medicare benefits.

Finally, for the first time, women—mothers included—will pay the same rate for health insurance as men. Forty-two states currently allow gender rating (charging women more than men for the same health plan), with some charging up to 84 percent more. This is a huge, long-awaited gift to women and moms everywhere.

Health care reform acknowledges moms’ 24/7 care. That’s why the law works to serve moms every day and not just Mother’s Day.

By: Sandra Bogar, Center for American Progress, May 5, 2011

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Health Care, Health Reform, Insurance Companies, Medicare, Uninsured, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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