First lady Michelle Obama recently joined the health care debate with a gender-based argument for her husband’s reform proposals, saying women are being “crushed” by the current system. Though Mrs. Obama’s appeal was more personal than the wonkish approach taken by Hillary Clinton, the last first lady to pitch health care’s overhaul, it still missed the mark.
Mrs. Obama said current structures punish women because they earn less money than men, making their health care more expensive. She said women are more affected by the lack of insurance options because they tend to work part time more than men, and for employers who often don’t offer coverage.
Unfortunately, this argument misses many of the same points missed in the overall push for Obamacare.
Writing for National Review Online, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum says that while women do face unique challenges, the answer isn’t completely remaking the health care system.
Women tend to take more breaks from work than men – to have and raise children, she writes.
She says disconnecting health care from employment, by eliminating the tax break employers get for offering health care – a tax disadvantage to workers who have to buy their own coverage – would go far in helping women.
The problem of women paying more than men for the same insurance “could be solved through regulation tweaks” instead of turning the system over to government regulators, Lukas writes.
The current system can be a disadvantage to women. But as is true generally, there’s no need to tear down the house to fix a broken front door.