Healthcare has revealed an alarming truth – women are bearing an additional financial strain commonly known as the “pink tax.” This financial pressure not only impacts wallets but also health – particularly breast cancer patients. This article investigates this troubling disparity and its effect on women.
Women Pay the “Pink Tax” In the United States, women with employer-sponsored health insurance from their jobs pay an estimated out-of-pocket healthcare cost difference of $15.44 billion between 2017-2022 when it comes to out-of-pocket costs that don’t include premium expenses compared to men, according to research conducted by Deloitte, a financial services firm. Women despite paying similar premiums had an actual coverage value that was $1.34 billion less. This revelation came from Deloitte’s analysis that covered 2017-2022 data was conducted.
The report highlighted an alarming statistic: Women exhibit higher health expenditures compared to men by 10%. Even without considering maternity costs, female out-of-pocket expenses remain 18% higher; this rises further when considering pregnancy costs.
Dr. Kulleni Gebreyes, one of the authors of the report, underscores how this disproportionate financial burden goes far beyond usage differences to raise concerns over equity of insurance plans designed by companies.
Gender Disparity in Coverage
One striking aspect revealed by this report is an apparent disparity in coverage provided by insurance companies for men and women, specifically breast cancer screenings which tend to cost more. Furthermore, this financial strain is compounded by existing gender wage gaps.
Dr. Gebreyes emphasizes the relationship between financial wellbeing and physical health of an individual and an increased health bill; financial services managers need to examine benefits plans thoroughly in order to address what some have dubbed a ‘pink tax’ in healthcare services.
The Susan G. Komen Report
Recently published by the Susan G. Komen organization is an expose that details the financial strain placed upon breast cancer patients due to treatment costs that have become excessive and therefore pose an insurmountable barrier.
Susan G. Komen is a nonprofit dedicated to combatting breast cancer that offers financial assistance for qualifying breast cancer patients struggling to cope with treatment’s financial strain. This initiative granted over $9.1 million between April 2022 and March of the following year to almost 16,000 patients, mostly covering housing expenses, transportation to treatment centers, utility bills, food expenses, medication costs and other financial stresses that these patients experienced.
Additionally, this report presents another disturbing statistic – up to 73% of adult cancer survivors express concerns over affording their medical costs, casting further doubt over an already difficult journey.
Cait Diamond Stone, Vice President of Community Health for Komen, shared an uplifting anecdote about how Komen’s assistance program has made a profound impactful statement of impact: She received a note of thanks from a woman undergoing chemotherapy treatment who lost her job as a result of it; financial aid enabled her to pay rent and treat her twin children to pizza on their birthday! Such stories underscore their vital role in alleviating both financial and emotional burden for patients.
Cancer’s Steep Treatment Costs
Cancer treatments are notorious for their exorbitant costs, with an estimated monthly average bill of $2,900 according to a 2020 study. Many cancer patients find these expenses unaffordable and must resort to savings withdrawals, loan borrowing or credit card use to cover these bills – breast cancer being particularly costly according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Since 2000, total cancer spending in the US has seen a substantial surge, with projections suggesting even greater costs in the future. Biologics and chemotherapy drugs that play an essential role in treating cancer have become more expensive; and commercial insurers are shifting an increased portion of medical care costs onto patients themselves via higher deductibles, copayment rates, or premiums.
As patients are kept in the dark about the costs associated with treatment until they receive their bills, this adds further uncertainty and stress to their experience.
Women in the US already face greater financial insecurity compared to men; in 2022 women earned only $0.82 of what is earned by men; Black and Latina women fare even worse, earning just $0.63 and $0.58 of what white men earn, respectively.
Given these disparities, it should come as no surprise that nearly half of breast cancer patients, according to the Komen report, acknowledge that even minor financial strain can have a devastating impact on their cancer care decisions – sometimes forcing them to postpone or forgo important lab tests, medications, surgeries, hospital stays or outpatient services as well as taking time off work altogether.
Research studies have documented the financial burdens associated with breast cancer for women of color, younger women, unmarried individuals and those living on limited incomes – and this has only increased since COVID-19 pandemic began to spread. Financial support may therefore become even more crucial to support patients diagnosed with this disease.
Cait Diamond Stone, herself a breast cancer survivor, understands the numerous challenges patients encounter upon diagnosis and the importance of organizations like Komen in providing financial aid that helps ease both their emotional and financial strain.
The ‘pink tax’ on women’s healthcare is an alarming reality that poses an extreme threat to their health and well-being, particularly breast cancer patients. With healthcare costs ever rising, steps must be taken immediately to rectify disparate access to quality healthcare for all.
Women facing breast cancer face the financial strain as an additional burden that can have far-reaching repercussions. Assistance programs may help relieve some of this financial pressure while also creating a more positive mental outlook during treatment.
As societies strive for equality, healthcare must also reflect this dedication by eliminating any form of “pink tax” and providing equal access to care regardless of gender or financial standing.
What Is The Pink Tax in Healthcare?
The term ‘pink tax’ in healthcare refers to additional healthcare costs experienced by women relative to men despite having similar health insurance policies, such as out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatments or services.
Why do women face higher healthcare costs?
Women experience increased healthcare expenses due to factors like wage gaps and higher out-of-pocket expenses as well as disparate insurance coverage, which can create financial strain for breast cancer patients in particular. This financial pressure can have severe repercussions.
How can financial assistance programs assist breast cancer patients?
Financial assistance programs offered by Susan G. Komen can offer essential grants to breast cancer patients for expenses like housing, transportation and utility bills – helping ease financial strain while freeing them to focus on recovery.
What financial challenges do cancer survivors face?
Its Cancer survivors typically encounter substantial medical costs associated with treatments, medications and ongoing follow-up care – bills they must cover through savings accounts or loans and credit cards.
What steps can be taken to address the “pink tax” in healthcare?
In order to combat the ‘pink tax,” there must first be greater awareness of disparities in healthcare costs between genders. Businesses and insurers can design more equitable plans while policymakers can implement measures to narrow gender wage gaps while guaranteeing access to affordable healthcare for all.