Critics Rip Gender Gap in Health Insurance Charges

Advocates call for an end to higher premiums for women
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2008 3:04 AM CDT
Activists, nurses, and patients demonstrate last month in Washington outside of the America's Health Insurance Plans Conference to protest abuses they say characterize the industry.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – Health advocates and some politicians are crying foul over the huge price difference between men's and women's health insurance, the New York Times reports. Healthy young women are regularly charged up to 50% more than their male counterparts, even when maternity care is excluded. The practice is prohibited under job-based insurance plans, but is standard in the individual insurance market.

Insurance firms say the price difference reflects the fact that women tend to use health services more than men. They have checkups more regularly and use more prescription medication. Advocacy groups are calling for the discrimination to be banned nationwide, arguing that it's unfair to penalize women for having babies and for taking better care of  their health.