October 30th, 2008
Like much of America, I have been mad at insurance companies for a long time. I was doubly mad when I turned 40 and my rates went up 35 percent. Like many self-employed professionals, I raised my deductible so I could afford to pay the monthly premiums.
I was triply mad when I went to the ER this summer after having chest pains and palpitations for days (anxiety from overwork between the books and my regular freelance workload; there, I admitted it) and my $2,000 bill was not at all covered, thanks to my newly raised deductible. (In an attempt to highlight what other single freelancers and employees were doing to get around the insurance question, I wrote an article about marrying for health insurance for ABC News.)
Well, yesterday’s New York Times article about how U.S. women who buy individual health insurance often pay significantly higher rates than their male counterparts has my blood boiling all over again. (Thanks to Gwynneth for the heads up on the piece.) Apparently, we cost more because (a) we have babies, and (b) we tend to go to the doctor more than men when we’re sick.
I recently contacted an insurance agent to help me find the cheapest yet best coverage for me. She helped me save $1,000 a year by scrapping the maternity benefits I was paying for, as I’m not looking to get pregnant. Problem (a) averted. As for problem (b), I encourage you to join (free!) the Freelancers Union, a New York-based group that’s been lobbying elected officials for better healthcare solutions for independent professionals on a national level. And of course, vote on Tuesday.