How are you feeling? A recent study found that women and young adults invest less in health insurance. More than one-third of young adults, ages 25-34 lack an active health insurance policy. What's more, only about 60% of women period are protected by health insurance.
Zelros, a company that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help insurers better understand and serve their clients, surveyed 1,000 people across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and parts of Europe.
The age disparity in health insurance coverage is an issue, and there is also a gender gap.
Why Are So Many Women Without Health Insurance
Not surprisingly, the primary reason women and young adults balk at getting health insurance is the high cost of coverage. Further information from Zelros confirms a positive correlation between the high insurance cost and fewer women owning a health insurance policy.
58.3% of women believe insurance coverage is too expensive to obtain. On the other hand, 46.7% of men surveyed believe insurance is affordable.
That's a big factor for why 75.4% of men surveyed have an active health insurance policy, whereas only 60.9% of women have coverage.
Chief Marketing Officer at Zelros, Linh C. Ho, was asked how to address the gender gap in health insurance coverage:
“Gender gaps in insurance, and as a whole in society, require modern solutions to reduce the gap and create a more balanced and equitable society. AI and ML technology is making it so gender gaps in insurance can get noticed and reduced, by making sure insurers can identify these gaps and provide solutions, so all of their customers are equally insured.”
Convincing People 25 to 34 To Buy Health Insurance
The survey pinpointed Millenials as the largest group who lack sufficient health care insurance if any at all. Even 18 to 24-year-olds have a higher rate of health insurance coverage. The survey discovered that 63.5% of Gen Z has health insurance, while only 58.5% of people in the 25 to 34 age bracket are covered.
So how do we bridge that disconnect?
Provide More Customized Products
Insurance companies need to recommend personalized policy options that ensure policyholders are neither over- nor underinsured. Not paying for more than what you need means you can more easily afford it. It also relieves the stress of having to pay out of pocket when you do need insurance, but lost it due to lack of payment.
An InsurTech company like Zelros uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology to help make sure more people are covered, are aware of their insurance policy needs, and are provided with highly personalized recommendations when needed.
Provide Better Payment Plans
Many people in this age bracket carry long-term debt, such as car payments and mortgages. The flexibility to pick a payment plan that works better is a benefit that makes health insurance coverage worth considering.
Create a Simple, Digital Application Process
Millennials are known to be tech-savvy. After all, they are the first generation that grew up in the Internet age. They appreciate streamlined processes with less paperwork and simple applications they can complete on their mobile phones. If insurance companies provide an app or easy-to-access online portal, they may see applications and policies increase.
Lack of Adequate Health Insurance Hurts Everyone
One of the biggest problems the Affordable Health Care Act was intended to fix is the high cost of caring for underinsured citizens who may delay getting expensive preventative care, until they have no choice but seek treatment. Whether that issue was fully addressed or not, the significant gap in people versus people covered by health insurance means that all of us pay more.
Either we pay more for our own coverage, or our tax money goes to cover those without insurance that hospitals and urgent care facilities don't turn away. Everyone deserves some level of care – which is why there are multiple tiers of government-funded free or low cost health insurance.
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of it. Immigrants, non-English speakers and unhoused transients may not have access to a computer or the understanding to properly apply. They can leave behind dependents and children who are also uninsured.
This affects all of us.
Subsidizing the care for others is not a bad thing, but it does leave the average person with less income. That's fewer dollars to spend on staples, let alone ‘frivolous' consumer goods that bolster our overall economy. It's hard enough to spend your money on your family's medical emergencies, without worrying that you'll have to cover other families. It may lead to the depletion of your savings and filing for bankruptcy.
Which transfers even more financial burden to the state.
Then there is the high cost of health insurance employers provide – or once did. Now employers rely on state programs or put more of the burden on the employee, lowering wages to compensate for the expense.
Health insurance expenses can also kill jobs for less skilled workers as employers try to reduce work hours and offer employment with minimal benefits. People in this position may depend on welfare and other government assistance.
And ultimately that government assistance isn't free, either. To pay for the costs of programs like Medicare and Medicaid, governments must collect more taxes. Otherwise, they are forced to offer fewer services elsewhere, cutting budgets for public education or infrastructure. If governments can't carefully balance these costs, they run the risk of continued deficits. And once again, that burden shifts to future taxpayers.
But without affordable federal and state government health insurance, people without coverage will delay or forgo getting treatment for illnesses that may be serious and lead to an untimely death.
How Can We Get More People Insured
Personalization and flexibility of health insurance policies are the keys to getting more women and young adults the coverage they should have. Allow people to pay for precisely what they need.
Many go without health insurance, assuming they are healthy and doing fine without it. But life is full of surprises, and an accident or unexpected illness can quickly deplete savings and pile up medical bills. Not having insurance coverage isn't worth the risk.
These gender and age gaps in insurance coverage are serious but not irreversible. But the longer we wait, the harder it will be to act.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Nadia is an M.B.A. graduate and freelance writer. She also likes to write about all aspects of mom life, co-authors the blog This Mom Is On Fire, and advocates for better dementia healthcare for seniors.