Should Women Pay More for Health Insurance Than Men?

February 27, 2019 • By Sophia Smith
The estimated reading time is 5 minutes

Health insurance is another expense that many of us don’t love but choose to tolerate because it makes life safer and easier. But what should the cost of health insurance be? And should your gender influence this?

The situation depending on whether health insurance costs are equal between the sexes can vary slightly. In many places, it’s actually illegal for health care providers to offer higher insurance for either gender – cost can, however, differ based on the person’s lifestyle choices and possible pre-existing conditions. But the debate over whether one gender, and more specifically women, should pay for more continues to rage on. Why?

Women’s healthcare costs are higher

The truth is that women’s healthcare costs over their lifetime tend to be higher. According to studies, the cost isn’t that small either but can quickly rise up to thousands of dollars. This then, would mean that women should pay more for health insurance than men who might put such a financial burden on the system.

But why is it that women’s healthcare costs are so much higher? There are many reasons for this. For one, women tend to live longer than men in almost every society on earth. Considering that a person’s healthcare needs tend to increase as we get older, it isn’t surprising then that women might require more care, as they live longer than men.

On top of this, women’s healthcare needs can be costlier for a variety of health reasons. One of the major difference here is the fact that women are the ones who give birth. Carrying another human inside you is not an easy feat and this can add to the healthcare needs – you are essentially going to need care for two people during those nine months of pregnancy. In addition, family planning in general tends to add to the cost and this is often laid down on the shoulders of women – for good and for worse.

Of course, there are a variety of other factors too. Certain conditions that are more prevalent in women, for example, might cost more and so on. But the bottom line is that for society, keeping women health can end up costing more than ensuring men are doing fine.

The problem of trying to equalise the cost of healthcare

Now, the problem is that if men and women pay the same amount for health insurance, yet women’s healthcare costs more, you end up with an unequal system. The cost of care has to be covered by someone and in this case it would be the men who do that. If health insurance companies set premiums based on the average cost of women’s healthcare, then men will end up paying more. In any case, men will have to fork up more just to cover the disparity.

This is the reason many call for insurance companies to be able to set the policy prices according to the standards they want to use. This would include the ability to charge more for women.

What about the moral argument?

Amidst all of this, it’s still important to also consider the moral argument. Should women pay more for health insurance than men? The truth is that anyone opting for health insurance runs the risk of being either the beneficiary of the system or paying into it. This is because you are always paying sums that consider the possibility that you would get sick. But what if you don’t? In this sense it’s easy to argue that you ended up paying for nothing. Of course, the cost of not paying for insurance and then getting sick is actually worse.

However, the point is that the health insurance service has its winners and losers. So it’s not just the gender that might cause you to pay more than your fair share – it could just be your luck of never really needing the services!

Furthermore, there are other moral discussions to think about here. Women didn’t choose to be women – gender is just something you are born with, even in the case that your biological gender isn’t what you associate yourself with. It’s not really a woman’s fault they tend to live longer or that they have to give birth. It can, therefore, be questioned whether we want to live in a society that would have health insurance companies penalising people for their gender. It’s a much easier case to penalize smokers, for example, as we can all choose to do it freely while knowing the risks to our health.

The debate continues

The question is undoubtedly a rather tricky one. It’s clear that women’s healthcare costs are higher. But to what effect this is something worth penalising for in a modern society is questionable. It’s also important to consider whether there could be other ways of ensuring the cost disparity isn’t too high. It’s certain, however, that the debate around the topic will continue.

Sophia Smith

She is a renowned nutritionist and freelance writer whose topics of interest include healthy living and healthy eating. She is passionate about introducing new and delicious healthy meals while balancing her time between cooking and going to the gym. Her mission is to change the life of as many people as she can and make them the best version of themselves.
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