Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

11.5G: Gender Inequality in Health Care

  • Page ID
    8287
  • Gender discrimination in health care manifests itself primarily as the difference that men and women pay for their insurance premium.

    Learning Objectives

    • Identify three ways in which gender inequality in health care manifests itself in the United States

    Key Points

    • Gender inequality in health care presents itself as women have to pay higher insurance premiums than men.
    • Another form of gender inequality in health care is the different rates at which men and women are insured; more women than men are insured in the United States.
    • Gender inequalities in health care also revolve around different medicines are covered by insurance companies. For example, the contraceptive mandate demonstrates gender inequities in the different medicine that insurance companies are willing to cover for male and female patients.
    • Gender inequality in health care might be reduced under President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which outlaws gender discrimination in health care. It would require insurance companies to charge men and women the same rate for health insurance.

    Key Terms

    • contraceptive mandate: A government requirement that health plans—including those offered by religious institutions—offer contraception to policy holders.
    • insurance premium: The amount charged to a policy holder for a certain amount of insurance coverage.

    Assessing gender equity in the health care systems, particularly in the United States, depends heavily upon what factors one considers best to analyze equality.

    The Insured

    More women than men are insured in the United States. In one study of a population group in a low-income urban community, 86 percent of women reported having access to health insurance through publicly assisted or private options, while only 74 percent of men reported having any health insurance at all. Trends in which women report higher rates of health insurance coverage is not unique to urban, low-income, American populations.

    Studies that address percentages of each gender covered by insurance only speak to one measure of inequality in health care.

    Insurance Premiums

    Gender discrimination in health care manifests primarily as the amount of money one pays for insurance premiums—the amount paid per month in order to be covered by insurance. Women statistically pay far higher premiums than men. This is largely due to regulations of private insurance companies. Fewer than ten state governments prohibit gender discrimination in insurance premiums. For the rest of the union, insurance companies consistently charge their female policy owners more than their male counterparts.

    Gender discrimination in health care could be changing in the United States. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (informally called “Obamacare”), passed under President Barack Obama in 2010, insurance companies would be prohibited from charging men and women differently. To rationalize gendered rates, insurance companies claim that women use more medical services than men because of pregnancy visits.

    Women’s Health

    The Obama administration faced another controversy over gender equity in healthcare in 2012 with the administration’s contraceptive mandate. In January of 2012, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, announced that all health care plans were required to provide coverage for contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The effective meaning of Secretary Sebelius’ announcement was that contraceptives are considered by the Obama administration to be a requisite component of health care.

    The premise of the contraceptive mandate demonstrates present inequities in the American health care industry for male and female patients. Whereas services for male reproductive health, such as Viagra, are considered to be a standard part of health care, women’s reproductive health services are called into question. In the context of the 2012 contraceptive mandate debate, health care professionals ‘ assessments that contraception is an integral component for women’s health care, regardless of sexual activity, went largely unaddressed. Instead, insurance coverage of contraception was framed as a government subsidy for sexual activity.This framing revealed inherent social inequalities for women in the domain of sexual health.

    image

    Obama Responds to the Passing of the Health Care Bill: President Barack Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden and senior staff, respond in the Roosevelt Room of the White House as the House passes the health care reform bill. This bill is seen as a vital step in combating gender inequalities in the health care system.

    LICENSES AND ATTRIBUTIONS

    CC LICENSED CONTENT, SHARED PREVIOUSLY

    • Curation and Revision. Provided by: Boundless.com. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

    CC LICENSED CONTENT, SPECIFIC ATTRIBUTION

    • Women in the workforce. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_i..._participation. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Occupational sexism. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupat...discrimination. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Gender role. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_role. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Glass ceiling. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_c...g%23Definition. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Boundless. Provided by: Boundless Learning. Located at: www.boundless.com//sociology/...discrimination. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Gender Role. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender%20Role. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Wage gap. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_gap. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Occupational sexism. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupational_sexism. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Boundless. Provided by: Boundless Learning. Located at: www.boundless.com//sociology/...-collar-worker. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Boundless. Provided by: Boundless Learning. Located at: www.boundless.com//sociology/...gender-pay-gap. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • glass ceiling. Provided by: Wiktionary. Located at: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/glass_ceiling. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Average earnings of workers by education and sex - 2006. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Av...sex_-_2006.png. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Glass ceiling. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_ceiling%23Studies. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Gender pay gap. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Boundless. Provided by: Boundless Learning. Located at: www.boundless.com//sociology/...gender-pay-gap. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Average earnings of workers by education and sex - 2006. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Av...sex_-_2006.png. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Near Muang Sing, Akha village | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/azweger...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Seven Sisters (colleges). Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sisters_(colleges). License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Gender discrimination. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_...on%23Education. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Women's colleges in the United States. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's..._United_States. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • coordinate colleges. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/coordinate%20colleges. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Seven Sisters colleges. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven%2...ers%20colleges. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • coeducational (coed). Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/coeducational%20(coed). License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Average earnings of workers by education and sex - 2006. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Av...sex_-_2006.png. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Near Muang Sing, Akha village | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/azweger...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Women in Science | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: www.flickr.com/photos/honeyro...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary..._2008%23Gender. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Gender discrimination. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_...ical_candidacy. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Seneca Falls Convention. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_Falls_Convention. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Women's suffrage in the United States. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's..._United_States. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • voting bloc. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/voting%20bloc. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • women's suffrage. Provided by: Wiktionary. Located at: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/women's+suffrage. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • master status. Provided by: Wiktionary. Located at: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/master_status. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Average earnings of workers by education and sex - 2006. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Average_earnings_of_workers_by_education_and_sex_-_2006.png. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Near Muang Sing, Akha village | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/azweger...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Women in Science | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/honeyro...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Lucretia Coffin Mott | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Wage gap. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_gap. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Job discrimination. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_discrimination%23Gender_discrimination_and_the_workplace. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Occupational sexism. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupational_sexism. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • sexual harassment. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/sexual%20harassment. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Boundless. Provided by: Boundless Learning. Located at: www.boundless.com//sociology/definition/pink-collar-worker. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • wage discrimination. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/wage%20discrimination. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Average earnings of workers by education and sex - 2006. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Average_earnings_of_workers_by_education_and_sex_-_2006.png. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Near Muang Sing, Akha village | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/azweger...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Women in Science | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/honeyro...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Lucretia Coffin Mott | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Restoring Right to Equal Pay for Women | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerryna...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Contraceptive mandates. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraceptive_mandates. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Rush Limbaugh u2013 Sandra Fluke controversy. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Rush_Limbaugh_%E2%80%93_Sandra_Fluke_controversy. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Obamacare. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Obamacare. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Health equity. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_equity%23Healthcare_equity_and_sex. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • insurance premium. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/insurance%20premium. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • Boundless. Provided by: Boundless Learning. Located at: www.boundless.com//sociology/...eptive-mandate. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
    • All sizes | Buildmore Women Into Building Housing Showcase Project - 16 December 2009 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lundyk/...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • How to Supervise Women (1944). Located at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq_6BEn4NMA. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright. License Terms: Standard YouTube license
    • Average earnings of workers by education and sex - 2006. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Average_earnings_of_workers_by_education_and_sex_-_2006.png. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Near Muang Sing, Akha village | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/azweger...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Women in Science | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/honeyro...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Lucretia Coffin Mott | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • All sizes | Restoring Right to Equal Pay for Women | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Provided by: Flickr. Located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerryna...n/photostream/. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Barack Obama reacts to the passing of Healthcare bill. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ba...hcare_bill.jpg. License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright