Post Script UPDATE 9/26/2012 – Since August 1st, 2012, the Affordable Care Act and the Office of Women’s Health has required that most private health insurance plans cover preventative care for women, which could in the long run, drop prices even further for women. Some of the preventative services that must be covered are well-visits, screening for gestational diabetes, screening for breast cancer, screening for colorectal cancer, screening for cervical cancer, counseling for STD education, and domestic violence screening and counseling. If women’s health improves due to these screenings, then the cost of health insurance should be more manageable for both genders, but it will take consistent care to see this happen over time.
Women’s health insurance has always struggled to find balance between affordability and quality coverage. Over 90% of individual health insurance plans charge women higher premiums than men for equal coverage according to Michelle Andrews’ article on NPR.org. This practice is known as gender rating and has been considered acceptable for years, but this is to change with the implementation of health care reform, set to start in 2014.
A recent report from the National Women’s Law Center calculated that women spend over $1 billion more a year on their health insurance premiums when compared to men. This shocking statistic lends the question of whether or not this is fair. Health insurance companies argue that women’s health care costs are typically higher, due in part to maternity health related costs. Gender rating will be banned starting in 2014 under health care reform and many women are happy to hear this. Surprisingly, about 65% of people are unaware of this provision in the Affordable Care Act based on a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s April health tracking poll. There needs to be more education available to Americans to truly understand how health care reform will affect their lives.
Health care reform will still allow health insurance rates to be based on four main factors. These factors are family vs individual enrollment options, age of applicant, location of applicant and whether or not the applicant smokes. The new formula could dramatically change the way health insurance rates are charged and some people may see rates decrease, including women. What will this mean for men? Some men may end up paying more to balance out the change. The poll shows about 60% of people favor the new provision, feeling that it levels the playing field for paying premiums.
Written by Sam Tabes
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Tags: health care reform, health insurance rates, maternity coverage, women's health care, women's health insurance