6 Shockers About Women’s Health Care

What is at stake for women in health care reform? Plenty.

Should being born female be considered a pre-existing condition that translates into higher health insurance premiums… or a C-section be classified as a pre-existing condition… or basic maternity care require a special rider on a woman’s insurance policy? Does it seem even remotely fair that a victim of domestic violence be denied health insurance coverage? The insurance industry certainly thinks so.

The current system is failing women at every turn

1) Less than half of women have the option of obtaining employer-based coverage on their own. Even when they work for an employer that offers coverage, one in six is not eligible to take it, often because they are part-time workers. They end up either covered through a spouse (41%), purchasing insurance directly through the individual market (5%), on public programs (10%), or uninsured (38%).

2) Married women in the 55 to 64 age group are particularly vulnerable to a discontinuity of coverage as their spouses go on Medicare. Among this age group, there is a drop in dependent employer-sponsored coverage from 39% to 34%.

3) More than 50 percent of women have delayed care due to cost!

4) State and federal laws that protect individuals with employer-sponsored insurance do not apply to the individual market. These include anti-discrimination protections in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), which prohibits covered employers from charging different premiums or denying coverage based on age or health status.

The National Women’s Law Center looked at premiums charged 40-year-old female non-smokers versus 40-year-old male smokers. In most states, it often costs more to be a woman than to be a male smoker; more than 60% of best-selling plans charged 40-year-old female non-smokers more than 40-year-old male smokers.

5) The vast majority of individual market health insurance policies do not cover maternity care. Even so, in some states, women still pay 50 percent more in premiums for policies that require a supplemental plan for maternity care.

6) It legal in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence.

If you think this is shocking and discriminatory, please take a moment to sign the petition telling Congress to end insurance practices that discriminate against women.

If you are a woman, comfortable in a group policy, some of these items may have escaped your notice, but as unemployment rises, and fewer employers offer group insurance to their employees, more women are falling through the cracks. 

Women are not a foreign species — reproductive care is basic care for women. Women take on the lion’s share of responsibility for a family’s health care, and it is women who must take the lead in the fight for reform. But that doesn’t let men off the hook — the health and well-being, as well as the financial impact of women’s health, affects the entire family.

Democrats in Congress who are pushing for reform need to speak up about the blatant discrimination against women by the health care industry, and how reform can no longer wait.

What can you do to help? Sign the petition and tell Congress: Being a Woman is NOT a Pre-Existing Condition. 

Related Articles from Care2 Causes:

Why Women Must Lead the Fight for Health Care Reform

Another Blow for Battered Women: Health Insurers Deny Coverage for Victims

Women’s Equality Day: We got the vote, now how about health care?

Being a Woman is Not a Pre-Existing Condition



National Women’s Law Center

Photo: Centers for Disease Control


Joy Anne R.
Joy Anne R.8 years ago

Being a woman isn't a condition inasmuch as pregnancy isn't a disease.

Karen J.
Karen J8 years ago

I doubt that congress has the "Balls" to vote for universal health care. The petition that we need to start is a national referendum on congressional health care. 1. force the legislator to pay for their own health care as a part of budget cuts and 2. Take their insurance away after they are out of office. We get stiffed by congress when they are in office and have to pay them the rest of their lives.

April Hunter
April Hunter8 years ago

Medicaid for all.
Simple, cost effective, easier. Wipe out insurance completely and just have NO ONE standing between you and your doctor.

Jean Sudbury
Jean Sudbury8 years ago

It is still a man's world any way you look at it. Sex discrimination exists in all field of work and medicine and will continue until a woman is able to step up and take control. This was proven in the last election. Preexisting conditions should not be factored of consideration for affordable medical care because most of us just want basic medical care which is affordable. That is all we ask. Very simple. I would rather not even have to go to a doctor and many of us have fallen under care which starts with misdiagnosis and leads to unnecessary expenses, leading to ''preexisting conditions'' which then puts us under the category of those who cannot find affordable health care. This has to change if we want to continue to be a nation which promises life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Health and happiness go together and should be available to all, men and women alike.CEOs need to be written out of the picture and be forced to fend for themselves rather than living the parasitical lives which they live.

P H.
P H8 years ago

We need universal health care and a new model, the insurance model only benefits the insurance companies and big pharma. Extending medicare to all would be a good start to overhauling our health care system. If you agree contact your senators and reps about the following amendments.

The Weiner amendment--Medicare for all.

The Kucinich amendment which allows states to more easily implement single payer plans is already within the bill and must be retained.

Sen Sanders is sponsoring a Medicare for

Barbara V.
Barbara V8 years ago

Al H: There you go! You hit the nail on the head!

Steve R.
Steve R8 years ago

Hey people - I don't blame anyone for being angry at insurance companies, and espicially their executive management, all of which probably take home 7 figure incomes that they voted for THEMSELVES.

But they're not unique - this has become a culture in all American boardrooms, no matter what the industry.

Now if they had REAL COMPETITION which forced them to actually cut costs, lower premiums, stop excluding pre-existing conditions, cut out huge deductables, and be unable to drop you if you get sick, then they probably wouldn't be able to pay themselves these totally unrealistic salaries.

Therein lies the answer - a PUBLIC OPTION - not single payer - that's not good. I do not want a system that gives me FREE healthcare at the cost of higher taxes, because guess what - it won't be the CEO and executives that pay the higher taxes - it'll be YOU and ME.

We MUST have choice - if I don't want to use the public option and go private because I can afford it, I want that choice.

The public option must COST me if I am under 65, because then I can have a say in it, and because I don't want someone else to pay for my health care. But the public option MUST be affordable and provide a good quality of healthcare, even if I have to wait in line. I don't mind that as long as I am GUARANTEED health care and cannot be refused.

With regard to women's issues in this article, I couldn't agree more. Do you see them charge MEN more for having a prostate, testicles, and ahem?

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L8 years ago

Deborah W...we need a complete overhaul of all CEO's and Executives, not just healthcare. I spent 30 years in management. Some of the salaries are outrageous, the extra benefits you get as a manager, especially executive management is unfair...as examples long-term disability insurance paid for exes but not even offered the general population of workers, long-term care insurance paid for execs but again not offered the general population of workers, medical insurance that is enhance for and paid for execs, and the huge gaps in salaries between execs and other employees.

We need some strong laws for businesses but we also need a a more caring society. It has amazed me to listen/read what some of the general public is saying regarding people in financial trouble, who have lost their jobs, or can't afford health insurance.

I have always been proud to be an American but I am now ashamed of how we treat each other. What is it about America that can bring out the best in her people but also instill such greed, bigotry,selfishness and down right hatred.

I hope for a better America and I fear for her future if her people don't change.

Greg K.
Greg K8 years ago

It is in the very nature of women to have children periodically. It is completely stupid to charge one sex for an activity that involves both sexes. If a man is capable of sex and is fertile he is also likely to be involved in a 'pregnancy' situation. Considering the RANDY nature of our politicians they should pay a higher premium due to the unsafe sex they have with employees, hookers, interns, mistresses, gay prostitutes, boys and for all we know farm animals.

The entire purpose of insurance is to pool the risk - someone needs to have babies or the premiums would stop. Insurance companies should charge one premium for everybody and provide services like smoking cessation, exercise programs, eating advice, close control of known conditions etc. to IMPROVE THEIR RISK in the pool of customers they are stuck with. Removing people must be made impossible. This is the chief benefit of single payer. We will eventually have a form of single payer. The only question is how high will we allow the body count and cost to climb to before the change is made.

Shelley C.
Shelley C.8 years ago

I'm Canadian, and, while we have issues similar to those described with our life insurance coverage, everyone has access to health care whether we smoke, are pregnant, are women, rich or poor or whatever.
Support your president in his proposal for universal health care! No one in a developed nation should have to worry about whether or not they will be covered if they have a health crisis or a baby!