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Working Women’s Health Expenses: $15.4B More than Men

A recent analysis of employer-sponsored health plans by Deloitte Consulting has revealed that high healthcare costs are disproportionately affecting women in the U.S. workforce. Working women spend $15.4 billion more annually on out-of-pocket health expenses compared to men in similar positions. On average, women spend 18% more than men on copays and deductibles, even after excluding costs related to pregnancy and maternity. This discrepancy persists despite women’s total healthcare expenditures being just 10% higher than men’s.

Several factors contribute to this gender-based healthcare cost disparity. Women generally use more medical services than men, partly because of annual gynecological exams and the high costs associated with breast cancer imaging. While these annual exams are often fully covered, follow-up services can lead to copays and deductibles. Many of these services tend to be more expensive than the typical deductible, adding to the cost-sharing burden for women.

Deloitte’s analysis suggests that employers have the potential to address this $15.4 billion gender gap in healthcare cost-sharing through improved benefits design. They estimate that it would cost approximately $133 per employee per year, or about $11 per month, to create more equitable healthcare benefits for women.

Dr. Kulleni Gebreyes, U.S. Chief Health Equity Officer at Deloitte Consulting, emphasized that business leaders can play a role in resolving this issue by ensuring equitable healthcare benefits for their employees. She highlighted the financial burden women face, which is further exacerbated by the gender pay gap, making it crucial for companies to take steps toward more equitable healthcare benefits.

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