‘Obamacare’ spells more health equality
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 14:03
Picture this: You are a 30-year-old woman paying $375 a month for your health insurance. The man sitting across from you – who is of the same age and uses the same exact insurance plan – is paying 31 percent less.
This probably does not sound very reasonable to you – it certainly doesn’t to me – but according to new research from the National Women’s Law Center, this scenario is not the exception; it’s become the rule, and women from across the country are consistently finding themselves paying more for benefits than their male counterparts.
Insurance providers often credit this persistent gender gap to claims showing that women ages 19 to 55 tend to consume more health care services than men. They are said to be more likely to visit doctors, get regular checkups and take prescription drug medications. However, many are finding these justifications to be unsound, and this includes woman like Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. She finds these reasons to be “highly questionable” because there is no set standard for these gaps in price, according to The New York Times.
In contrast, prices vary greatly from one insurer to the other. Arkansas is the perfect example of this. In that state, they have two insurance plans: one is charging 25-year-old women 81 percent more than men, while a similar plan is only charging women 10 percent more, according the same Times report.
This gender gap isn’t explained by maternity care either. In the individual insurance market, maternity care is not included in your standard package of benefits. It may be offered as an optional benefit, one that you’ll only receive after paying for a heavy additional premium, adding even more to your cost of health care.
Gender rating is not founded in facts and 14 states have already taken steps to ban or limit its use in the individual insurance market. The rest of the country seems to be making no effort to stop this discriminatory practice – this includes Florida. But things are going to change in 2014 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
If you’re not sure what the ACA is, then perhaps the term “Obamacare” will trigger your memory. This controversial health care reform law just had its two-year anniversary last week, and with it came celebration by some and protest by others. Republicans and religious groups alike have stood stoutly against the ACA since its passage.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, more than 100 people attended a pro-religion rally in downtown Fort Lauderdale last Friday, all with the goal of protesting the birth control with no co-pay provision within the bill. And then we have the Republican presidential primary with every candidate vowing to repeal Obamacare if they become elected.
What these groups fail to realize is that the Affordable Care Act helps Americans, and the elimination of gender rating is just one of many ways that the ACA works to serve you. Other provisions that benefit women include the aforementioned birth control provision and more access to critical preventative care like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.
If you identify as a young adult, you now have the opportunity to stay on your parent’s plan until you’re 26. And according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the ACA has already allowed 2.5 million more young adults to be insured.
Despite its benefits, 26 states, Florida included, have sued the federal government over the constitutionality of the ACA. The merit of these lawsuits will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court later this month. Whatever the decision is, Americans need more facts and less rhetoric around health care. And based on what I’ve heard from politicians and insurers alike, I’m glad we have Obamacare, because at least now I know somebody actually cares.