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Women pay 39 percent more for individual health policies

The City of San Francisco filed suit this week, alleging that the State of California has illegally allowed "gender rating" by health insurers to create an enormous disparity in the cost of individual insurance for men and women.  The suit claims that under the system approved by the state's regulator of insurance, women pay as much as 39 percent more for coverage.  The defendants apparently don't deny this disparity.  The Los Angeles Times attributes this explanation to bone-headed Blue Shield spokesman Tom Epstein: "Our egghead actuaries crunched the numbers based on all the data we have about healthcare" and found that women awere more accident prone than men and more likely to break bones or get sick."

We have discussed this price disparity in previous entries on the weblog, and more thoughtful explanations suggest that while women are not more "accident prone", they are more likely to seek care when ill, and that child-bearing results in additional health-care expenses for women.  It does not take a genius to recognize that a gender-disparity this great will prevent women from purchasing coverage and will transfer the resulting expenses to the tax-paying population in general.  Prior studies, related elsewhere in this log, have also shown that uninsured individuals suffer more health problems and complications, and that their ultimate care is more expensive, because of lack of timely intervention.

In whatever manner we solve the "health care crisis" we must endeavor to bring more people into the health care umbrella, so that relatively healthy and inexpensive [read, to some extent "lucky" or "sperm-donating" or "temporarily able-bodied"] individuals share the over-all cost of health care in America.  Allowing insurers to "tax" female individuals out of coverage on the lame argument that they are "accident prone" is not in the interest of anyone. Ten states have outlawed gender rating.

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