Studies Show CO Women Pay More For Health Insurance

Studies show women pay up to 50% more than men in health insurance premiums when they buy individual policies in Colorado. It's not just because of maternity coverage:

They pay more even when maternity coverage is not included. And in many cases, a female nonsmoker pays more for health coverage than a man who smokes.

Pending federal health care legislation would change that. What do the insurance companies say?

... the insurance industry warns that lowering premiums for younger women could mean higher premiums for most everyone else.

...Insurance companies probably would have to raise prices on other groups to make up the difference if they were forced to lower prices for younger women, said Tom Gosselin, director of small-group underwriting at Anthem.


From Rebecca Weiss, [Colorado] director of government affairs.

"Shouldn't health insurance premiums be based on some degree on how many medical services you receive so that everyone is paying according to what they are using?"

Insurance companies say it's not just maternity. They say younger women go to the doctor more than men. 11 states already ban gender-rating.

Gender-rating is banned in Colorado for small-group insurance:

Colorado is among several states that have banned gender-rating in the small-group insurance market, which in this state applies to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. For businesses with more than 50 employees, insurance companies can consider age and sex when setting rates — but the risk is spread throughout the company so everyone's premiums are equal.

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    this is so politically correct (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by diogenes on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:00:56 PM EST
    No one complained when insurance companies use gender ratings on MEN such as under 25 year old boys who try to get automobile insurance.
    And if you eliminate acturially accurate gender rating of women, then of course other people will pay more.    

    No one complained? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:17:54 PM EST
    I don't know a soul who doesn't complain about that imbalance. They do get a break if they get married before the age of 25, though.

    Other people being . . . (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:19:49 PM EST
    men? Not much of an option there, unless there's another "other people" . . . . , so you might as well just say it.

    Other than "young women" (none / 0) (#30)
    by Raskolnikov on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 04:15:04 PM EST
    The quote was: "Insurance companies probably would have to raise prices on other groups to make up the difference if they were forced to lower prices for younger women"

    From that I gather that the largest disparity is between young men and young women, and so the "other groups" would included men and older women, at least the way that quote is structured.

    If insurance companies have the liberty of setting rates based on risk, and if statistically it is more expensive to insurance women than it is to insure men in that age bracket, then what's wrong with this practice?  Granted, if you disagree with price disparity in premiums in general, the point becomes moot.  


    Think about the disparity (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 05:50:32 PM EST
    Is it even POSSIBLE for a single man to submit medical costs for maternity? What needs to be done is "shared" insurance responsibilities for all medical events that require both male and female participation.



    acturially accurate (none / 0) (#38)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 08:51:21 AM EST

    If the ratings are in fact acturially accurate then there should be no problem with this.  If the insurance commissioner is on the ball, that is probably the case.  

    It does not surprise me that women (4.50 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:18:00 PM EST
    tend to be, on average, more conscientious about their health. But I also wonder if men are cheaper to insure because they are more likely to--ahem--die quickly than have a prolonged illness.

    If women are more conscientious about their health (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:27:51 PM EST
    wouldn't they be catching things earlier or be in a more preventive routine than men? Which would translate into lower costs, or so they say . ..

    The dirty secret of "reform" (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:29:02 PM EST
    is that it's not so clear that quicker treatment is sooner.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#4)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:31:31 PM EST
    Sunday brain doesn't comprehend . . .

    Last word should be "cheaper" (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:32:16 PM EST
    Apparently I have a sunday brain too!

    {Whew!} (none / 0) (#14)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:55:37 PM EST
    I think there is a certain percentage where it certainly is cheaper, heading off things like type 2 diabetes, knowing if you have any watch spots etc. Diet can make a big difference for example. If your blood pressure is creeping up, but more as a warning vs active medical problem, you can try to change and stop the progress. Some medical problems, not so much. Managing them early may end up costing more long term via management (vs major medical treatments and shorter life), but I guess quality of life and longevity are a bad thing when it comes to insurance ;)

    Men tend to think in terms of (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by SOS on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:36:31 PM EST
    "die like a man" . . or "a brave man dies once and a coward dies a million deaths".

    Other then that I think most of the Health Insurance mania is a combination of business seeing gold with the boomers entering end of life, and probably the fact they are insolvent during one of the worst economic scenarios in U.S. History. "The end days of the consumer economy".


    going to the doctor more... (4.66 / 3) (#7)
    by Dadler on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:34:10 PM EST
    ...in no way indicates you are more conscientious about your health. My health has increased exponentially since I stopped going to the doctor for chronic back pain, allergies, intestinal stuff, hell, I was essentially a fibromyalgia patient before I discovered our current medical paradigms were making me worse, like they do for lots of things. For instance, simply telling someone that their MRI shows an irregularity, whether that irregularity is important or not (and many are not), will cause a high percentage to feel increased pain and almost self-debilitate more. As long as we ignore the brain's role in illness and disease, and not simply as a mere contributing factor, even the best medical reform will have to battle America's paradigmatic addiction to believing themselves nothing more than machines with broken parts.

    I have a hunch that the insurance industry charges more to whomever they believe will take it without fighting back.  The quiet wheel gets no grease.


    Well sure, the point is to sell you (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:37:42 PM EST
    a service you won't use. To them it's like a gym membership or cell phone minutes. The difference is that in healthcare, there is a moral component.

    Conscientious doesn't have to equal Dr visits (none / 0) (#11)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:43:04 PM EST
    at least in my case it doesn't, lol!~

    I think I agree with your hunch. It's interesting that when I compare plans online, they ask my gender and age. Also if I'm a smoker. Nothing about race or weight.


    It's true (none / 0) (#12)
    by SOS on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:43:46 PM EST
    if not learned helplessness Big Pharm has made it to easy for people to take a pill for all the various symptoms that bug them.

    Men are cheaper to insure (none / 0) (#15)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:56:00 PM EST
    because they have obligations to a family. Women, on the other hand, are dependents of men.

    In CO, does the male pay more for his spouse when adding her to his policy, or is this just for independent women?

    I'm pretty sure, based on what I've seen in the insurance industry here, that this fascinating prejudice doesn't exist in WA.


    Target demographic (none / 0) (#17)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:08:17 PM EST
    is what came to mind.

    If you are trying to sell a product(which is what insurance is) then you want to know which demographic is the best to target.  Then you market specifically to that demographic.  If more men are buying health insurance (and spending more per person on it), then marketing and pricing strategies will be targeted to them.

    I know it's odd to think of health insurance being marketed the same way sports cars and beer are, but to some extent it does happen.

    So why do women get the shaft in this scenario?  Because they don't spend as much on health insurance as men do and they consume more services.  Being punished for being thrifty?


    Except, it doesn't apply (none / 0) (#20)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:22:30 PM EST
    in other states. Don't all these elements find their design in the office of the state Insurance Commissioner? We had a really tough female IC for years. I can't complain much about how insurance works here.

    It DOES (none / 0) (#35)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:28:01 PM EST
    apply in Washington state, if only in the insurance market.

    Take a look at our health questionnaire and its scoring system.  It is very easy for a woman to score over the 325 point threshold required to be denied insurance on the individual market.

    When you're denied, your only option is the high risk pool which comes with high risk premiums.  So yeah, women are effectively charged more for insurance, at least on the individual market, in WA state.


    Uh (none / 0) (#36)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:31:18 PM EST
    I meant to say, "if only in the INDIVIDUAL insurance market."

    Debra Senn was bold and tried things, but her efforts didn't pan out.  Basically, she drove insurance companies away from the individual market (in 2000) until the state agreed to pretty much all of their demands, at which time they came back.


    I must have a miracle worker (none / 0) (#37)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 07:07:01 PM EST
    for a broker, then.

    Do they really? (obligation to family) (none / 0) (#21)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:23:21 PM EST
    What about all those single moms out there? Women who's spouse doesn't have insurance available through work etc?

    I was being (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:32:47 PM EST
    sarcastic. Thought I could escape the tag.

    Single moms don't get any breaks in most states, but that's a whole different issue.


    {looks up} (none / 0) (#25)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:41:55 PM EST
    yup, that flew right over my head . . .  

    Okay so they gouge women (4.50 / 2) (#6)
    by SOS on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:32:44 PM EST
    to keep the prices lower for men. Or whoever this "everyone else" is. Capitalism at it's finest.

    So in order to afford good health care (4.00 / 1) (#10)
    by SOS on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:40:24 PM EST
    you'll need to have a Law Degree, and MBA, and a degree in Finance to even have about the only future in shovel ready apparently is grave diggers.

    They don't even do that anymore though graves are dug by backhoes made by Caterpillar Inc. anymore.

    . . Ooops (none / 0) (#13)
    by SOS on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:46:51 PM EST
    and a degree in Finance to even have a shot at materialism . . "comfort" . .

    I wonder about this (none / 0) (#22)
    by kmblue on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:32:05 PM EST
    My sig other (we're not married and live separately)
    works for a huge company and has a great plan.  But he hates hates hates to go to the doctor, even when he's sick and I gently urge him to do so.  Always says "it will go away on its own."  He's still alive.
    And he has dental, but hasn't had his teeth cleaned in years.
    Perhaps this is why men are cheaper to insure? ;)

    Why wouldn't this phenomenon be (none / 0) (#24)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:35:30 PM EST
    universal? The post is only talking about Colorado.

    Men are not the only ones who don't go the doctor and dentist regularly, or even when they probably should.


    I think there is something to that.... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:17:27 AM EST
    I definitely buy that men make less use of the healthcare system than women, and cost less tio insure.  And we die younger on average.

    And the entire insurance industry is based on discrimination...that ain't news, be it health auto home life, thats the business model.  Which is fine when insurance is a private affair, I think once a type of insurance is mandated by law, meaning you are punished for not having it, then its gotta be the same flat rate for everybody to jive with the concept of equality under the law.  


    I always thought re my employer provided (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:59:46 PM EST
    insurance choices employees who were insuring self plus 1 or more got a better break than I did when I was only insuring myself.  Not sure if that was decided by CalPERS or by the insurers, but it seemed to be across the board.

    There's a huge difference between (none / 0) (#27)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:04:07 PM EST
    group insurance premiums and individual. Jeralyn is talking about individual.

    I realize that. Just getting my 2 cents worth (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:05:48 PM EST

    I remembering insuring self (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 02:05:43 PM EST
    was a whole lot more than the cost of adding my daughter.  That was about 13 years ago though.

    If birth control didn't require a prescription (none / 0) (#32)
    by reslez on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:15:31 PM EST
    or women weren't told they need a pap smear every year I bet many would go to the doctor less. Yet I imagine most men enjoy living in a society where women do practically all the work of seeing to birth control and sexual health. Yes, some things are very unequal.

    I understand men become much more expensive for health insurers than women by the age of 50. Yet I haven't seen any figures that suggest insurers charge men at this age twice as much as women.

    At this point I suspect insurers would use anything as an excuse to raise rates. Even if health reform was 100% everything they wanted -- which will not be far from the case -- they would still use reform as an excuse to raise rates. Obscene CEO salaries don't pay for themselves you know.

    In Washington state (none / 0) (#33)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:22:13 PM EST
    I believe by law, insurance companies are disallowed from basing premiums on anything other than age and smoking status...

    Our individual health insurance questionnaire appears biased against women.  Women's diseases such as endometriosis, migraine disease, thyroid disease all score high enough that if you have all three, your health questionnaire score is high enough that they don't have to insure you.

    So companies don't charge you more, they simply don't insure you....and then you have the option of going into the high risk pool and your premiums become outrageous.

    So I guess women are probably discriminatorily more for insurance here in Washington State too.

    Uh, (none / 0) (#34)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 06:23:59 PM EST
    I'm not sure what I was attempting to say in that last line, but my editing turned it into gobble.

    Let me try again:

    Women are probably discriminated against more in health insurance premiums here in WA State too.