Health insurance costs Florida women as much as 52 percent more than men — up to $1,141 more on average each year —because of a gender gap that has existed for decades, a report said Monday.
And that doesn’t include the extra cost of maternity coverage.
Florida is one of 39 states that allow insurers to charge different rates based on gender. Young and middle-aged women pay more because they tend to use more health care, insurance experts said. Florida’s gender gap in rates is in line with the rest of those states.
“Women go to the doctor more. Young men still have that invincible attitude and don’t go unless someone makes them,” said Michael Caplan, a partner at Insurance Depot agency in Margate.
The question is whether it’s good public policy to make women bear the cost of biology, rather than spread the cost across society, said Mary Beth Senkewicz, an insurance consultant who was Florida’s deputy insurance commissioner until last fall.
The health overhaul passed by Congress in 2010 will eliminate the gender gap in rates as of 2014.
Monday’s report came from the National Women’s Law Center, which favors ending the gap. It looked at individual health policies, but not group policies most people get at work, which do not have gender-based rates.
The report found Florida women with individual policies pay 10 percent to 26 percent more than men at age 25, and 20 percent to 52 percent more at 40. Middle-aged women paid $599 to $1,141 more per year on average, depending on coverage.
At 55, the gap in rates has disappeared, the report found. Insurance experts said men consume more health care than women — and pay higher rates — starting at about age 50.