Health savings accounts and other high-deductible insurance plans create an unfair financial burden on women, largely because females need many medical services that quickly add up, according to a new study by Harvard Medical School researchers. In 2006, median out-of-pocket healthcare spending for women ages 18 to 64 was nearly $1,000 higher a year than for men in the same age groupor $1,844 compared with $847, the study found. The difference was even larger among adults under 45, with median costs of $1,266 a year for women and $463 a year for men.
The study, which appears in the April issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, also found that while only 33.1% of men under 45 spent more than $1,050the minimum deductible allowable for a federally qualified HSA55.6% of women did.
High-deductible plans punish women for having breasts and uteruses, study author Steffie Woolhandler said in a news release. When employers raise deductibles, theyre giving women a pay cut. And when politicians offer tax breaks for high-deductible plans, theyre discriminating against women.
The study used data from the federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which collects nationally representative medical spending data on an ongoing basis. -- by Laura B. Benko