"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Women pay billions more out of their very own pockets for his or her health care costs every year

October 3, 2023 – Marielle Farina, a senior manager at consulting and accounting firm Deloitte, has spent her profession helping health insurers design their advantages.

However, she was not prepared for the flood of medical bills that hit her during this turbulent time of motherhood.

“Becoming a new mother is very overwhelming – you have a few days in the hospital and then you take the baby home and try to figure out how to survive,” Farina said. “I remember getting bill after bill for a few weeks after he was born, which added to the sleepless nights and all the stress.”

As it seems, obstetric care is just the tip of the iceberg – women have higher medical costs than men even without bearing in mind the fee of childbirth, in accordance with a brand new report by Deloitte, co-author: Farina.

The report focused on working women, who analysts say spend as much as $15.4 billion more out of pocket every year on health care than men. This is true across all age groups and applies to women between the ages of 19 and 64.

Deloitte's healthcare team studied greater than 16 million individuals who had employer-sponsored medical health insurance. The results were staggering – in 2021, women spent a mean of 20% more out of pocket than men. Excluding maternity costs, the figure was still 18%, which equates to a mean of $266 more per 12 months.

The exact reasons for these differences are unknown, however the report identifies some likely reasons. Women use health care more regularly and spend 10% more on their health than men. Women require special check-ups that men don't, including gynecological exams, menopausal screenings, and expensive breast cancer imaging.

Women also get less for his or her money with regards to medical health insurance: amongst those with private insurance, they receive around $1.3 billion less in advantages than men, the report says.

The authors say the upper financial burden for health care might be seen as a part of the “pink tax” – the worth of products designed for ladies, equivalent to menstrual products. This problem is exacerbated by wage inequality between men and girls.

Women – particularly Black, indigenous and Latina women – make up nearly two-thirds of the country’s workforce in low-paying jobs in industries equivalent to food service, retail and house cleansing, in accordance with a report from the National Women's Law Center. And these public-facing jobs were particularly dangerous at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Women, especially black women, are overrepresented in these low-paying and high-risk jobs,” said Venicia Gray, senior manager of maternal and infant health on the National Partnership for Women & Families, a research and advocacy group. “To hear that men aren't paid as much is disheartening.”

There are studies that indicate a poorer quality of look after women in medical practices. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Women's Health Survey 2022, 29% of ladies ages 18 to 64 who visited a health care provider up to now two years felt that their doctors dismissed their concerns.

In addition, 15% said a health care provider didn't imagine they were telling the reality, and 19% said their doctor assumed something without asking.

This leads to less efficient and thorough medical care and forces women to make additional appointments and bear higher costs out of their very own pockets, says Malia Funk, founding father of POV, a platform promoting women's health.

Funk began the POV in 2021 after she needed eight doctor's appointments over three years to have a slipped IUD removed that was causing pain, bleeding and infection, she said.

Like Farina, Funk had a medical background, moving from medical school to working as a healthcare strategist and personal equity consultant. Despite her extensive experience, she was unprepared for the hurdles and costs related to treating what must have been a simple medical problem, she said.

Her repeat appointments were considered “sick visits” that she needed to pay out of pocket at her $4,000 deductible, she said. She was also charged $800 to rule out sexually transmitted infections, which she said was kept away from her knowledge during other tests.

“When I had these negative experiences, I consulted with some of the largest healthcare companies,” Funk said. “I thought, 'I know this area, but I still don't know how to get good healthcare.'”

Kulleni Gebreyes, an emergency medicine physician and chief health equity officer at Deloitte, hopes the report will encourage employers and insurers to take a more in-depth have a look at the insurance structure. Company leaders should work with providers to determine why these discrepancies exist and to revamp advantages and cost-sharing, she said.

“Women are not men with ovaries,” she said. “There are different medical needs, different disease burdens, different behaviors. As we think about how to make health care more affordable, we need to make sure our health insurance system takes that into account.”