Monday, October 19, 2009

Being a Woman Is Not a 'Pre-Existing Condition

Is having a uterus a pre-existing condition?

The insurance companies seem to think so, says the National Women's Law Center, an advocacy group for women's legal rights that is on a mission to end unfair insurance company practices toward women. And it believes it's making some headway.

Over the weekend, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new state law that bans gender rating, which is the practice of charging women higher insurance rates than men for the same services.

• Women are charged as much as 48 percent more than men for health insurance.

• Of the more than 3,500 plans studied, 60 percent did not cover maternity care.

• Women are regularly denied coverage for "pre-existing conditions," which can include pregnancy or a previous C-section.

• In eight states and the District of Columbia, insurers are allowed to use a woman's status as a survivor of domestic violence to deny her health insurance.


Anonymous said...

Why are the Democrats so against opening up insurance companies to be able to sell across state lines ?

seth said...

this is interesting and kind of gets to the heart of some of my concerns w/ governement health care, primarily a belief that what we're going to get is a one size fits all sort of scheme. the reality is that, at least in my age range, women are more expensive to insure than men, if only because it's culturally normal for them to get a check up once a year (not the case for twenty something men). i don't think this one physician's visit per year makes women drastically more expensive to insure, but to me, it does illustrate that there isn't a 'base level' of health care that will suit everyone.

in reality, (even if our government is paying for it) those who spend more on health care will be more expensive to insure. i wonder whether an examination of the data would find that in general, there are a number of places where health care spending for women is higher than it is for men. it seems to me that that would be a more objective/less incendiary way to consider things than asking whether having a uterus is a pre-existing condition.

in terms of the domestic violence thing, i'd like to see the context. i agree that it would be crazy to deny coverage to someone because of one instance where they were a victim of spousal/partner abuse. however, if they establish a pattern of returning to the abusive situation and ultimately requiring more health spending as a result, i think that has to affect rates (although i don't like the outright denial of coverage either).

did you guys catch 'this american life' this past week? it was all about health care (largely about our screwed up system and how it got this way) and provides some really interesting perspectives.

J. Tyler Ballance said...

You need to do a quick review of Actuary Science.

Of course women are charged more to insure, they seek medical treatment, on average, much more than men.

The same actuarial methods are applied to car insurance. Men are on the road much more (though this difference is diminishing with more women in the workforce and more men getting laid-off).

Where is the outcry from women seeking "equality" in auto insurance rates?

Instead of playing the game according to the insurance parasites' rules, why not change the game entirely?

Let us build a National Health Service, so that taking care of every American citizen, is simply a part of our infrastructure, just like defense, sanitation, and water.

Anonymous said...

Why is this even a controversy? Of course women are more expensive to everyone else has said, they go to the doctor. Seth is right. And, though I disagree with JTB about forming an NHS, he is right about auto insurance. I don't see them raising their hand to pay more with that in the name of 'equality'.

Toni D. said...

Can you explain the process and benefits of opening up insurance companies to selling across state lines? Potential drawbacks?

I can also see the young male perspective at work in your responses.

Bubby said...

Remind me what vehicle did all of you wise dudes arrive upon this mortal coil? And then raise your hands - all who would nurture a fetus in your abdomen for 9 months and then espress it through your...didn't think so.

And then tell me upon what moral/ethical high-point you believe that profiting from maternity, sickness, or injury is a legitimate business?

And save the nonsense about car insurance - nobody ever died for lack of car insurance. 45,000 Americans die every year for lack of health insurance.

Anonymous said...

Toni D., women are more expensive to insure because they use more services. I suspect the whole child-bearing thing has a lot to do with it too. That's simply a fact, regardless of the perspective. You may not like it, just as I didn't when I had to pay more to be insured as a teen, but when these companies have to weigh risks that's just the way it works out.

seth said...

call it a young male perspective if you will (as mine is the perspective of a reasonably young male). however, as i know a number of men my age and younger whose perspectives are very different than my own, i think that trying to place people's perspectives in neatly labeled boxes is not a constructive (or honest) approach. if you'd really like to label me, i think you'd do better to call mine the perspective of a youngish conservative who believes that further disconnecting people from the actual cost of their health care will do very little to control the actual price that they pay. that being said, perhaps it's time for the left to acknowledge that from their perspective, this debate is much less about controlling runaway health care costs and much more about the philosophical belief that the purpose of government is to dictate the well being of it's citizens.

Bubby said...

No Seth, the purpose of the government is to assure that citizens are universally provided with adequate and affordable health care. As J.T. Ballance notes; just like we do clean water, defense, corrections, transportation etc.

We all have a stake in a healthy society.

Anonymous said...

"that being said, perhaps it's time for the left to acknowledge that from their perspective, this debate is much less about controlling runaway health care costs and much more about the philosophical belief that the purpose of government is to dictate the well being of it's citizens."

Bingo. Its all about more gov't control. Funny that concern about costs didn't to BigPharma, as the Obama admin made a deal with them in exchange for their support of this overhaul.

seth said...

"the purpose of the government is to assure that citizens are universally provided with adequate and affordable health care."

is your opinion. honestly, i don't have a problem with it, but it's important to recognize that just because you or anyone else holds it, it's not necessarily palpably true.

and as a point of order, (to the best of my knowledge) the infrastructure of our federal government does not provide transportation, sanitation or water.

that being said i agree that we all have a stake in a healthy society. i just think that hubristically entrusting it to our federal government because we believe that anything they do is better than nothing at all is not the wisest way to take ownership of that stake.

seth said...

"Instead of playing the game according to the insurance parasites' rules, why not change the game entirely?"

jtb, i like your sentiment here, but i think it's naive. i believe that we can't change the game without changing the players (which is essentially how i view the current attempts at reform).

i think one of the most important changes in this vein would be to better educate the consumer (the most important player in the whole game).

check out that latest episode of 'this american life' and i think you'll see what i'm talking about.

Bubby said...

(to the best of my knowledge) the infrastructure of our federal government does not provide transportation, sanitation or water.

No, the government crafts the strategy, pays for the design, requests the bids, oversees the work, pays the contractors, and regulates the use of...after it raises the revenue from the stockholders - taxpaying citizenry. Poof! - public works delivered!

The way that the government got into those businesses was exactly the way that the government has found itself enmeshed with Health Care - the private industry FAILED to deliver a universal need (or fulfill their anti-trust mandate). And nationalized health care isn't being debated (outside of Rush Limbaugh's head); competition, and universal coverage is. This ain't rocket science Seth.

Health care costs are at $2.5 trillion/year, (18% of GDP), and estimated to double by 2018. Contemplate that as you worry about the budget deficit, fiscal restraint, national defense, right-to-life, or whatever else conservatives profess to be concerned with.

seth said...

if condescension is in order, it should probably be levelled at those who seem to think that because local and state governments fund some essential services, then it follows that the federal government should provide health care (and i'm being charitable here. the comments i referenced demonstrated no awareness of the distinction between the responsibilities of the federal government and those of state/local governments (demonstrating a cursory understanding of how government works and what level is responsible for what would help me believe that you guys actually know what you're talking about and aren't just making it up as you go along)).

i don't want to pay 40% of what i make for health care either (which will certainly happen under the current system), but i'll again say that i really don't believe that the feds are trying to control costs.

and if i'm not mistaken, national health care is being debated (and it will continue to be as people become increasingly aware that they won't pay less, they'll just be less aware of what they pay)

i'd like to see the governement take regulatory steps to increase competition without usurping a system that i believe it's pretty evident they can't run.

Rock Ribbed McDonnell Supporter! said...

Charging women 48% more for insurance and paying them less for equal work than a man makes pretty good sense to me. If they'd stay home where they belong there would be enough jobs for men to provide for their family with the women taking care of the children and the house like they're designed to do.

Bubby said...

Help me out here Seth; do you want me to believe that you are simultaneously unaware of how government regulates the orderly provision of essential services AND yet somehow fully informed on what your healthcare costs will be for a program that has not even been created?

Anonymous said...

Bubby you have a problem with math not everyone else.

Rockdem said...

O.K. Anon,

You repeatedly snipe at Bubby regarding figures and math.

Here's your opportunity:

Show us...

Tell everyone what's right and correct, using accurate figures and data...

I don't delete so have no fear that what you put forward will stand for all to see and contemplate...

Rockdem said...

And Seth,

Same applies to you my fine young friend.

You've enjoyed telling everyone what it is that you find deficient in the thought processes and conclusions of others, I'd like to hear from you Seth, what you have concluded to be the best ideas of how best to confront and solve the quandary we share regarding how to most effectively and efficiently deal with health care costs and service delivery.

Thank you in advance.

John in Grottoes said...

Women visit the doctor more because, as the nurses to their own familes, they understand the importance and logical sense of preventative care. Couple that with the AMA's constant recommendations to get annual OB/GYN exams with pap smear and mammograms and you get the picture.

The "macho" american male thinks its cool to not seek medical help. "I'm a man, I can deal with it."...and "only wussies go to doctors.",or "I'm too busy, I'll just tough it out, etc. Every male blogging here knows exactly what I'm talking about.

American women are caring and smart, american males are foolish risk takers who think its cool to not go to doctors. Talk about stupid.

Greedy insurance companies BANK on this fact.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the Democrats' false sollutions...destroy the patriarchy, NOW!

Anonymous said...

John in Grottoes, I don't believe young women who aren't deemed high risk are recommended to have a mammogram every year. You're right about the pap smear, but young, healthy males simply do not have a comparable test that is recommended, making a yearly doctor's visit overkill. Why go if you're healthy and you feel fine? Preventive medicine does NOT in the long run save money, it actually increases costs. It has nothing to do with being "cool".

seth said...

i'd like to see the onus put on us as responsible members of society (and i don't know how that can happen when you completely divest the conversation of financial incentives or disincentives by allowing our government to just take care of it). i'd like people to know that waking up one morning with a 101 degree fever is not necessarily a great reason to go to the er (but if they'd like to pay to do so, more power to them). i'd like people to know what their drugs cost and take generics rather than whatever the latest bell or whistle is whenever that's possible. in short, i'd like to see regulation which would lead to more (and more affordable) options for people who are able to manage their own health (maybe this means moving away from the current employer based system, where my rates are determined by what my coworkers have spent on their health in any given year). if we could then take some of the money we're planning to spend on this overhaul and improve the programs for those who are unable to afford coverage, i think that would be great. again, i'm aware that there will come a point at which many of us end up in that second group if we don't control costs and i do believe that it is imperative to do so. i just feel like the notion that whatever change we get has got to be better than what we've got is not very well coneived or considered.