Thursday, June 26, 2008


ELIZABETH EDWARDS, THINK PROGRESS Senator John McCain’s health plan is based on the idea that everyone should be on their own to buy their health insurance on the individual market. And it’s an approach fundamentally at odds with the point of health insurance: that we share risks. People with preexisting conditions, like McCain and myself, would pay much more for health insurance under his health plan, if we could get coverage at all.

Insurance companies have all sorts of characteristics they look at in order to increase premiums, such as preexisting conditions, occupation, age, and residence. But I hadn’t realized that the McCain plan would enable insurers to “rate-up” my insurance bill for not only my status as a breast cancer patient, but also my gender.

The ability to become pregnant has long been understood as an excuse to charge women more for health insurance (because, of course, men have nothing to do with that particular health condition). But [a David] Lazarus column . . . tells us that insurers are charging women higher premiums even if pregnancy benefits are excluded. Blue Shield of California (Blue Shield) is now charging woman more in the individual market because:

“Our egghead actuaries crunched the numbers based on all the data we have about healthcare,” explained Tom Epstein, a Blue Shield spokesman. “This is what they found.”

That women get sicker than men?

“It’s all about the statistics,” Epstein said. . .

Whatever their reasoning, one thing is clear – they don’t want to enroll too many women:

“We don’t want to get a disproportionate share of high-risk people,” added Epstein.


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