An expert on women's legal issues has lodged an impassioned plea for substantial health-care reform that is well worth a read. While many of her arguments apply to all small business owners, it's worth taking stock of how women small business owners in particular are disadvantaged by our current health insurance system.
First, there's the question of how small. Due to economies of scale as well as specific structural disadvantages, it is basically a rule of thumb that the smaller a business, the more expensive it is per employee (including a salary-receiving owner) to buy insurance. And it is a fact that small businesses owned by women tend, statistically, to be smaller than those owned by men, according to the U.S. Census. While on an individual level, insurance companies may not be attempting to screw over individual women small business owners, over the group as a whole that is the indubitable effect of this dynamic.
Then, there's the question of alternatives. That is: if women small business owners find that having their businesses provide insurance to their employees is prohibitively expensive--for the reasons discussed above and so many more--then, if they can't get on a spouse's plan, they must try to shop for insurance individually. But guess what? The individual insurance market is unfair to women, charging them more and failing in some cases to provide coverage for sex-specific contingencies such as maternity care.
Put it all together, and not only do you have further cause to hope for genuine, meaningful health insurance on behalf of all small business owners, but you also have a case to be made that our current health care system is fundamentally discriminatory against women, and women small business owners.
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