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Women Need Healthcare Reform--Now!

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Polls show that 76% of American women say healthcare needs reform, and for good reason. Most states allow "gender" to be a consideration in setting premiums, which allows insurers to charge women more than men for the same benefits. Cesarean sections are often consider "pre-existing conditions" and used to deny women coverage; in eight states it is still legal to deny battered women health insurance. Having been abused by a spouse or partner in this case would qualify as the pre-existing condition.

Women tend to be poorer than men, and tend to have greater health needs due to the cost of maintaining reproductive health. Women are more likely to be single parents, underinsured or to lack insurance entirely. This means women tend to spend more of their income on health care than men.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research Education and Trust, premiums for families have doubled since 1999 and wages have only increased by 34%.

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Women are routinely discriminated against by the healthcare industry. Women's increased premiums are not just due to reproductive health. By allowing "gender ratings" insurance can reduce women's income by significantly more than the $.78 for every $1 a man makes clear. At age 25, according to one study, women pay between six and 45% more than men for the same coverage. By the time, we are 40 we pay between four and 47% more.

Because individual premiums can be prohibitive, and insurers so willingly discriminate against us, women need choices; we need a true public option.

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The current proposal--including the Medicare Option--is a good start to getting women the healthcare they need and deserve.

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Kellie Bean has been a Professor of English at Marshall University, an Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, and most recently, Provost of a small New England College. Author of "Post-Backlash Feminism: Women and the Media Since Reagan/Bush" (McFarland (more...)

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