A Gender Divide on Healthcare Reform?
My friend and her husband are getting divorced: three small children and irreconcilable differences. He is a partner at a law firm and earns $800,000 per year. She is a stay-at-home mother. After the divorce, who will pay more for health insurance?
As regressive as it may seem, my unemployed single mother friend will pay more for healthcare than her law-partner ex even though they are the same age and both in good health. She will either go on COBRA and pay 102 percent of her husband’s employer’s healthcare plan charge while her husband’s health care bill will remain subsidized by his employer or she will purchase individual health insurance. Insurance companies in most states including my home state of Connecticut discriminate against women. They charge women significantly more for individual health insurance than men for the same age/risk category (See NY Times article, Women buying health policies pay a penalty, Robert Pear, October 29, 2008).
A key lynchpin to financial independence is affordable health care. Through price discrimination and a system that makes insurance more expensive for part time workers than those with full benefits, insurance companies have chosen to make healthcare reform a woman’s issue. It’s time to unite our voices and advocate for a public option on health insurance.