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

Women pay billions more out of pocket in healthcare costs yearly

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

But she wasn't prepared for the flood of medical bills that arrived through the whirlwind of recent motherhood.

“Becoming a new mother is very overwhelming – you have to stay in the hospital for a few days, then you take the baby home and try to figure out how to survive,” Farina said. “I remember the weeks after the birth when I received bill after bill, which only made the sleepless nights and stress of the whole thing worse.”

As it seems, maternity care is just the tip of the iceberg — women face higher medical costs than men, even without taking birth costs into consideration, in response to a brand new study report by Deloitte, co-author: Farina.

The report focused on working women, who analysts say pay as much as $15.4 billion more per yr out-of-pocket for his or her health care expenses than men. This applies to all ages and applies to women aged 19 to 64.

Deloitte's healthcare team studied greater than 16 million individuals with employer-sponsored medical health insurance. The results were staggering: In 2021, women spent a median of 20% more on deductibles than men. Excluding maternity costs, it was still 18%, which is a median of $266 more per yr.

While the precise reasons for the differences are unknown, the report identifies some likely reasons. Women use healthcare more often and spend 10% more on healthcare in comparison with men. Women need special tests that aren't available for men, including gynecological exams, menopausal visits and expensive breast cancer imaging.

Women also get less value for his or her money in relation to medical health insurance, receiving about $1.3 billion less in advantages than men amongst those with industrial insurance, the report said.

According to the authors, the upper financial burden on health services might be seen as a part of the “pink tax” – the worth of products intended for girls, similar to menstrual products. It is an issue that's exacerbated by wage inequality between men and girls, they are saying.

Women – particularly black, indigenous and Latino women – make up nearly two-thirds of the nation's workforce in low-paying jobs in industries similar to food service, retail and house cleansing, in response to a study report from the National Women's Law Center. And these jobs with direct contact with the general public were particularly high-risk 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 is research that indicates substandard look after women within the doctor's office. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation 2022 Women's Health Survey, 29% of ladies ages 18 to 64 who visited a physician previously two years felt that their doctors dismissed their concerns.

Additionally, 15% said a physician didn't think 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 spend more on out-of-pocket costs, said Malia Funk, founding father of POV, a platform that advocates for girls's health.

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

Like Farina, Funk had a background within the medical field, moving from medical school to positions as a healthcare strategist and personal equity advisor. Despite her extensive experience, she said, she was unprepared for the hurdles and costs that got here with solving what was presupposed to be a straightforward medical problem.

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

“While I was going through these negative experiences, I consulted with some of the largest healthcare companies,” Funk said. “I thought, 'I know this area and I still don't know how to get good health care.'”

Kulleni Gebreyes, an emergency medicine physician and Deloitte's chief health equity officer, said she hopes the report will encourage employers and insurers to take a more in-depth have a look at the coverage structure. Business leaders should work with providers to know why these discrepancies exist and to revamp advantages and value 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 ensure our health delivery system takes this into account.”