*** First Posted on Feminists for Choice ***
Even people who are against healthcare reform realize that insurance companies regularly screw over decent hard working people all the time. Insurance companies take exploitation another level of women. This week there has been a lot of talk about how insurance companies in several states consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition. This is a ridiculous policy, but is unfortunately not the only way women are
Thirty-eight states offer absolutely no protection for women purchasing insurance in the individual market. Women are charged higher premiums than men for identical plans. This higher cost is compounded by the fact women still earn approximately 78 cents to the every dollar a man makes. Therefore, programs such as employer financial assistance and tax credits for buying insurance unfairly leave women behind monetarily.
In addition, certain medical expenses that affect women more often than men usually is considered a pre-existing condition, elective or not mentioned at all. One of the biggest additional medical expenses for women is pregnancy. Due to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 employers are not allowed to charge a woman more for insurance if she is pregnant.
Now the individual market has no regulations concerning treatment of maternity in most states. Very often pregnancy is seen as a pre-existing condition. An already pregnant woman has almost no chance of getting maternity coverage is she looks to purchase insurance in the individual market.
If a woman seeks maternity coverage for a future pregnancy she often has to buy a supplemental benefits package (called a rider). These cost additional money and are often very limited in what they provide. Riders can cost anywhere from a $100 to over $1000 a month. Some rider benefit caps are so low that they don’t quite cover the cost of a vaginal birth without complications. To add insult to injury, as of 2008 four states offer zero options for maternity coverage in the individual market.
When it comes to eating disorders, women’s health is again pushed aside for the sake of a healthy profit margin. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 90% of people inflicted with eating disorders are women. This health problem leads to detrimental physical issues, but can be treated before it gets to that point. However, health insurance companies will not cover any cost of treatment until in entails physical damages.
As the government debates issues of healthcare, the inequity in healthcare for women vs. men is among the issues that need to be resolved. Decades ago insurance companies stopped charging different prices based on race. Women should not be left behind and demand fair treatment in the healthcare industry.
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