Gender and Insurance

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In a post the other day, Elizabeth Edwards made the point that individual markets in health insurance, à la John McCain's proposals, would be disadvantageous to women. For whatever reason this doesn't seem to get talked about much, but there's a significant gender disparity in health care costs and that plays a role in thinking about insurance in a variety of ways.

For example, in a world where everyone must buy insurance, and insurers must sell insurance to all customers at a flat rate, you have a strong incentive to try to attract a disproportionately male client base -- lots of ads on Spike TV and sports programming, no ads on Lifetime or Gray's Anatomy. How big a deal that would prove to be in the end is hard to predict in advance, but in general any system that involves consumer choice and for profit insurance firms is going to encourage people to design plans that better-fit the desires of men than of women.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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