Paper Gowns, Fender Benders, and Gender Equality


mind the gap

Women (especially young women) go to the doctor more often than men—a lot more. So it's no surprise that health insurance companies want to charge more to cover women. The reverse is true of auto insurance, where men (especially young men) are more costly to insure. Ladies get to pay more for the privilege of sitting around in a paper hospital gown, and men get to pay more for the privilege of getting into frequent fender benders. Everybody loses, right?


The Denver Post ran a story last week that involved the word "outrage" under this headline, "Women pay up to 50% more for health insurance premiums."

And, while I am generally baffled by the instinct that drives people to write letters to editor, Paul Kelly of Delta has won my heart with this missive:

I was shocked by your report that women are charged higher health care premiums just because they go to doctors more often.

If insurance companies are allowed to charge higher premiums to offset greater risk, soon they'll want more for a $10 million life insurance policy than a $10,000 one. They'll want more for auto insurance just because the applicant has a few DUIs and vehicular homicides on his record. Then they'll deny some poor guy a homeowner's policy outright just because he's on probation for arson and insurance fraud.

If this spreads, restaurants will want to charge the guy who had lobster and chardonnay more than the guy who had a tossed salad and iced tea. And the chiropractor husband of the woman featured in the article might start charging his patients more if they come to see him more often.

NEXT: Cutting the Deficit is Not the Same as Spending Less

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  1. I think the problem is that although women on average go to the doctor more then men on average…it is unfair for a woman who goes to a doctor less then an average man.

    1. That does seem unfair. Of course, there’s the solution of self-insuring with catastrophic insurance, but that wouldn’t really be “health reform” according to our socialist saviors…

    2. Of course, its just as unfair for a man who goes to a doctor less than the average man, as well.

      The point here seems to be that insurance is unfair to anyone who pays more in premiums than they get paid in claims.

      1. What about young people who have terminal, conditions that are uncurable. They are paying in for services they will never recieve. Like alzheimer’s care, etc.

        1. I think the take away here is that if you pay for health insurance and socializing your risk it is best to use as much health care as you can.

          Otherwise health care insurance is unfair, and you are better off not getting it.

        2. That depends on if the condition occurred while the policy was in force.

    3. What about it being unfair for someone who goes to the doctor more often to get charged the same, and hence subsidized by less frequent visitors?

      I have no problem with insurance companies adjusting rates depending on personal histories. But that does mean that sicker people will have to pay more, by definition.

      If you want to get charged only for the services you used though, don’t use insurance.

  2. Someone needs to tell the woman in the photo to lose the silly socks and replace them with spike heeled pumps that match those panties.

    1. Win!!

  3. That’s a dude John T. Put your risque side back in the closet.

    1. Dude! A dude? How do you spot them without seeing the front of the neck?

      1. It all feels the same in the dark…from what I read…

        1. Stop quoting Warty.

        2. Smooth, hairless skin — I’d say that person in the pic is more likely than not female (and probably Asian), though there is considerable ambiguity.

          1. female (and probably Asian)

            That’s all I need.

  4. I think this reveals a common mindset wherein “health care” is a unitary object with no variation. People with this mindset have abstracted health issues to such a degree that they really cannot see that different individuals consume more health services than other people.

    This is why so many people see no problem with politically managed health care. They think health care is perfectly fungible just like money. They think it no more complicated to manage health care for 300 million people than it is to collect Social Security “contributions” and then write checks to retirees.

  5. Nice art on the story.

  6. Why are you baffled by the instinct that drives people to write letters to the editor? I think more people are going to see a letter in a large metropolitan newspaper, and have time to reflect on it, than will ever hear an LP candidate who is lucky enough to get even a 10 second sound bite on tv. Or will see your postings on this blog.

    1. I had a letter published by the WaPo a few years back on smoking bans. Nice and prominent in the Saturday edition, with art even!

      Didn’t make a damn bit of difference, but hey, it was cool.

      1. Me too. I called William Raspberry a racist.

    2. I am generally baffled by the instinct that drives people to write letters to editor

      And comment on blogs?

  7. How do you spot them without seeing the front of the neck?

    Naga has had… “educational” experiences.

    Many of them.

    1. If he’s catholic he might have had “religious” experiences as well.

      1. Deep woods baptist, actually.

        “Squeal like a pig, boy!”

    2. He met her in a club down in old Soho

  8. That had better not be a picture of Suki.

    1. John T with a wig?


      1. John T lurking in the shadows, nodding approvingly at how you can’t even see the wires holding up his realdoll.

        \I’d avoid “rim” in conjunction with Suki T.

        1. NTTAWWT

      2. LOL

        Though that would give John one fine ass, which just seems wrong.

  9. Naga looks for the man hands and the crotch bulge. Then he moves in. He’s particularly interested in Jennifer Garner.

    1. It comes with the job, Epi. How am I supposed to entertain myself if not by playing cruel jokes on unsuspecting bar patrons?

      1. Get really baked before work?

        1. *sigh*

          You speak of the good ol’ days . . . good times.

  10. Awesome picture choice KMW!

  11. I wonder how much of that “women see more doctors” is due to the whole childbirth thing? I neither have nor want kids, and I’d be damned pissed if I had to pay more for insurance due to being unjustly accused of harboring mommyist desires.


    1. It’s been shown that women are statistically more likely to produce children than men.

      As such, I don’t think the insurance company would just take your word for it that you don’t plan on having kids. Everyone makes mistakes, even if its name is Johnny.

      The bright side of menopause is that your insurance rates go down. Yay!

      Also, as soon as the rates start going down for females, the rates for males start rising as we are statistically more likely to have more expensive health problems after a certain age…

      1. “women are statistically more likely to produce children than men”

        Also, I’d be really freaked out if I saw a woman give birth to a full grown man…

    2. Quit yer bitchin’

    3. Quite a bit, I’m sure, but young women also see physicians much more commonly than young men. Pap smears, and such.

      1. Those are only once a year (once every two or three if you’re on Medicare).

        Turn your head and cough, sir.

    4. Buried somewhere in the middle of the article was the fact that women see their primary care physicians up to 50% more often than men. Could that possibly have something to do with premiums being up to 50% higher?

      I agree with a comment to the original story, questioning why childbirth should be covered at all. If you plan to have kids, that’s a predictable expense. Isn’t the purpose of insurance to insure against unexpected expenses?

      1. Pregnancies can happen accidentally.

    5. I suspect women’s premiums drop after menopause.

      But as for assuring the insurance company sincerely that you really, really, don’t plan to have children, cross your heart and hope to die, I doubt that would change their plans much.

      You could ask them not to cover maternity in exchange for lower premiums though. But the state probably mandates they cover it anyway.

    6. I suspect women’s premiums drop after menopause.

      But as for assuring the insurance company sincerely that you really, really, don’t plan to have children, cross your heart and hope to die, I doubt that would change their plans much.

      You could ask them not to cover maternity in exchange for lower premiums though. But the state probably mandates they cover it anyway.

      1. It is obvious that mandates would raise premiums.

    7. The insurance companies don’t know and don’t have a reason to trust you on that. All they have is actuarial tables that say a woman in a certain age range has an X likelyhood of getting pregnant and they charge accordingly. It’s not their fault you want to be a statistical anomaly.

    8. Well, we breeders would put a much lower burden on the system if we were allowed to use the services of midwives and weren’t penalized for homebirths.

      Pregnancy and childbirth have been WAY over-medicalized (is that a word?).

  12. Women pay more for haircuts too. The solution? Tell the person cutting the hair that you’re actually a man. It’s not like they’re going to look…right?

    I think it could work at the doctor too.

  13. Mind the gap? No, I couldn’t.

  14. The pregnancy issue Jennifer brings up is one worthy of being explored more. When I went to buy health insurance independently, I was offered the option of a “pregnancy rider”. I was never offered such an option by prior employers. It crystallizes the cost of a pregnancy when you see the cost of insurance with/without the rider. Do any employers allow you to reduce your health care premiums by opting out of the pregnancy rider? If so, is this typical?

    1. MP is not me, and being a guy I doubt they’d ever offer me the rider

      1. Holy shit, Mango Punch is a lady?

  15. Holy shit, there is so much to comment on in the source article.

    Checking the “female” box It’s my understanding there is but one box and it is always female. I fear SugarFree will educate me otherwise and I will now preemptively cringe.

    “Women should not be penalized because their plumbing works differently and needs ongoing maintenance,”

    Uh, why the hell not? Men’s plumbing requires less maintenance, so either petition to have “maintenance” removed from health insurance plans, or pay up.

    I love that some states actually allow some risk-based pricing in their health insurance.

    Jennifer, actuarially speaking, unless you’re completely sterile I’d rate you higher than a man of otherwise equal demographic simply based on the potential for your pill not working and you getting pregnant by mistake. If a guy ever fulfilled that risk, he’d make a fortune from the talk-show circuit, book sales, and movie rights. Your oops wouldn’t even make the papers.

    FTA, it was funny but not really funny that the one woman said it would be cheaper to pay out of pocket for maternity than to pay for the maternity inclusive coverage. She really doesn’t know what insurance is or how it works. How does she expect the insurance company to pay her doctors if she doesn’t pay them an appropriate premium? She just wants something for nothing.

  16. She just wants something for nothing.

    I think you accidentally just summarized the entire problem with health insurance in this country.

    1. Oh, come on. Nobody expects something for nothing.

      She expects OTHER people to pay for it!

  17. Actually, as a former underwriter, I can attest that the risk curves for men and women start out with women of child-bearing age being a higher risk, then the two converge around middle age, with women becoming lower risks than men as they hit their 60s or so.

    But, hey, let’s totally ignore that people with an X and a Y chromosome in each cell have a different average statistical health risk curve than people with two X chromosomes per cell.

  18. Just the gynecology visits probably put them above men. Add to that the need for checkups when on birth control and its not hard to see why women are at the doc more than men.

    1. It’s the big ticket stuff that typically ratchets up health premiums — cancer, AIDS, heart attacks, all the things that can rack up claims well above $100K.

      The little stuff contributes, too, but it’s the big ticket items that can destroy a group’s rates.

      1. This is true.

        Surgeries are always expensive, at least five thousand dollars, for obvious reasons.

        Which brings us to the point of the effectiveness of universal health care. Universal health care systems can easily provide aspirins and X-ray exams. How well do they do with big ticket stuff like coronary bypasses or even installation of cyborg technology?

  19. Jennifer, actuarially speaking, unless you’re completely sterile I’d rate you higher than a man of otherwise equal demographic simply based on the potential for your pill not working and you getting pregnant by mistake.

    So what? So far as I know, abortion would be an out-of-pocket expense for me anyway (never having had one, I can’t say for certain), and I’d be more than happy if I could buy an insurance policy with the explicit disclaimer “no pregnancy or prenatal stuff is covered,” because I will never, ever need this.

    1. I must object. We need libertarians to breed and propagate their genes and thinking far and wide. In fact, you should be having ten-twenty kids. For the cause.

    2. I must object. We need libertarians to breed and propagate their genes and thinking far and wide. In fact, you should be having ten-twenty kids. For the cause.

      1. Clicked once!


        1. I clicked 3 times and my comment didn’t show.

          1. You know, for a website called Reason, one would expect a more rational commenting system.

            Yeah, I said it.

            Adnotatiunculae bilicis delenda est.

            1. I think it has something to do with Firefox. It never happens in IE.

              1. Pro Lib,

                You made a post about reproduction that not only duplicated, but actually underwnet meiosis. You should be grateful.

                1. Mitosis, actually. But close enough.

              2. That’s because the government monitoring system was designed by microsoft. So of course there are no glitches.

                Must find hat…

              3. I’ll bet you say that to all the guys.

  20. what about those with zerophilia?

    1. Should I even ask?

      1. Oh, Wiki’d it, sounds kind of like “Ranma 1/2”.

  21. I’ll bet that men pay more for life insurance than women. We do stupid shit that gets us killed way more often than women do. Will congress be addressing that sex discrimination disparity next?

    1. Stop giving them ideas!

      1. Isn’t insurance discrimination a hate crime?

        1. Actually, until the sixties insurance companies did charge blacks higher premiums that whites because of their lower life expectancy.

          I believe that now all states require that everyone is in a sigle pool based on on sex, though other risk factors like skydiving or being an ironworker can be used in calculating higher premiums.

          OT, a skydiver I knew pointed out that skiing was actually a higher risk pursuit but there was never a question about whether the insured was a skier on any life insurance application.

    2. I seem to recall a “scandal” similar to this one over life insurance and annuities in the 70s.

      Some women started a grumbling about annuities for women costing more that those for men. The insurance companies said that this was due to the fact that life expectancy for women was higher than that for men.

      I believe it stopped when the insurance companies started threatening to charge them the same as men for life insurance to get back the extra costs.

  22. It’s a twofold problem: health insurance meant to cover every single damned health problem (rather than insuring against big-ticket items and leaving people to pay basic maintenance themselves), and the one-size-fits-all insurance that is sold. I’ve never seen any “pregnancy rider” of the sort MP suggested, and I wouldn’t buy one because I’ll never need it. But so far as the health insurance companies are concerned, I’m exactly the same as a woman who says “My chief ambition in life is to surpass Michelle Duggar in the fertility department.”

    1. It was a revelation to me to see the number of ways in which I could fine-tune our personal health insurance coverage to meet our needs and our budget. It is strong anecdotal evidence of the huge benefits to be gained from decoupling insurance from employers.

      The pregnancy rider alone was about $1800/year. Once we made the call to have no more kids, we dropped the rider and enjoyed the savings.

      1. Just curious, how long was the waiting period for benefits after the rider was in force? Was it immediate, or was there a year-long delay?

        1. The rider was part of the initial policy we purchased, and it was effective immediately. I’m not sure if there would have been a delay if it was added after the fact, but none of the materials ever hinted at that. When we canceled the rider, it could only be done effective on the 15th of the month, so I suspect that adding the rider would’ve had a once-per-month timeframe as well.

          1. Thanks… I ask because it seems like an easy rider to take advantage of if you are carefully planning a pregnancy in the near future. My wife was insured through her law school when our son was born, and there was an error that caused us to receive a bill from the hospital (not including the delivery bill from the ob/gyn) for $13,000 for a day and a half hospital stay. While I am sure that the negotiated rate that the insurance company pays the hospital is much lower, it quite possibly could be more than the rider costs for an entire year…

  23. THREADJACK!!!!!

    ‘V’: The saucer-shaped bandwagon
    Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.

    The news media swoons in admiration ? one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: “Why don’t you show some respect?!!” The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader’s origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: “Embracing change is never easy.”

    So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait ? did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who’s come here to eat us?

    Welcome to ABC’s “V,” the final, the most fascinating and bound to be the most controversial new show of the fall television season. Nominally a rousing sci-fi space opera about alien invaders bent on the conquest (and digestion) of all humanity, it’s also a barbed commentary on Obamamania that will infuriate the president’s supporters and delight his detractors.

    1. This is racism, straight up.

    2. Obama was on Firefly?

      1. Wait until you see him unhinge his jaw to eat that Guinea Pig.

      2. Yeah, he played a bounty hunter who’s last line was “so here I am”.

  24. …I am generally baffled by the instinct that drives people to write letters to editor.

    Than wading through the usual assortment of H&R comments must give you seizures.


    I am going to stand here without my shirt and the aliens will leave

    1. You are the BeastMaster.

  26. Why is it always Mangu who posts the soft porn photos?

    She is the one responsible for lobster girl right?

    1. No X, Warty, SugarFree, Epi, or Steve Smith in the wiki?

      1. Nope. Someone needs to get to work on that wiki, but because we’re all disaster capitalists, none of us are willing to do it for free.

    2. Yes, the beautiful and talented KMW gave us Lobster Girl.

  27. It has come to my attention that 40% of all your sick days are Mondays and Fridays. This is unacceptable.

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