We’re so thankful to Marie Claire for reporting on how women tend to pay more than men for most things. The practice is called gender pricing, and it's everywhere.
Gender pricing takes place in the sale of health insurance, dry cleaning, haircuts, home mortgages, cars, and many, many more products and services. Toiletries such as shampoos, soaps, razors, and deodorants are marketed differently to men and women, although they are NEARLY IDENTICAL, with the main difference being aesthetics and scent. And you can probably guess who pays more.
These razors look the same, right? That's because they are.
It was found that in California women spent about $1,351 more than men on services and goods every year. Applied to the rest of the country, that means that women pay $151 billion more than men yearly.
There is NO federal law banning gender pricing. It has been challenged by some cities and states and California was the first state to ban it in 1996. But many of the statutes challenging this discrimination are often vague and easy to get around.
The New York Times confirms that gender pricing holds true for health insurance. They report that women pay more than men across states and across plans. For example, a 30-year-old woman covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield in Chicago pays 31% more each month than a man of the same age and with the same coverage. In Arkansas, one health plan charges women 81 percent more than men, while a similar plan in the same state charges women 10% more. Maternity care has nothing to do with it, since this is not usually part of the standard package. So why are these jacked-up prices necessary?
Health-insurance companies have justified their higher rates for women by saying that women ages 19 to 55 use more health-care services, go to doctors more, get regular check ups, use prescription drugs, and have chronic illnesses. But Robert Zirkelbach, the spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plan, wisely asks “Wouldn’t a healthy woman who sees her doctor regularly be cheaper to cover in the long run than a smoker who avoids the doctor for years?” There's hope of fixing this issue, thanks to our president. A new health care law signed by Obama in 2010 will prohibit gender pricing, beginning in 2014. However, the bill may be struck down in a Supreme Court Case later this month.
What can we do about gender pricing? Some suggestions: let our politicians know that it bugs us, raise awareness by posting on Facebook, write letters to companies who engage in this practice, and boycott the offenders. How do you think we can combat this shopping double-standard?