Whenever I mention women's health and the need for supplemental health insurance, most people immediately think of the costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth. As a mom of seven, I know first hand that pregnancy doesn’t always go as planned, and there can be significant costs associated with going on bedrest, a longer hospital stay, or other maternity related conditions.
But those aren’t the primary reasons I believe women need supplemental health insurance.
When we were developing the Brella product, we did hundreds of interviews. What we learned was that it’s the sudden, unexpected medical bills associated with moderate to catastrophic health issues that create financial challenges for women and their families—even when they have employer-sponsored health insurance.
While having a child can be expensive, it’s something you can prepare for over many months. What most people don’t realize is that there are medical conditions that women experience exclusively or far more often than men, which makes them more financially and medically exposed to the risk of health issues and the costs that come with them.
What kinds of conditions? Here are just a few and how Brella covers them.
Did you know that women are 30x more likely to get a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) compared to men? Conditions that you can treat at home or with a quick visit to a clinic—like a mild UTI—are generally not covered by a Brella plan and they don’t really break the bank. Occasionally, those UTI’s can worsen into kidney infections in women, which can be more serious. With Brella, a claim for a kidney infection diagnosis (technically a “rapidly progressive nephritic syndrome and/or nephrotic syndrome”) gets a Severe cash benefit, which could be anywhere from $500 to $3,000 depending on the amount you selected when you enrolled.
While breast cancer is not exclusively a female condition, 99% of breast cancer appears in women. Most critical illness policies will cover breast cancer, but they don’t typically provide a benefit if the biopsy comes back negative. Research shows that 50% of women over 30 will experience mastalgia or fibrocystic changes in their breast tissue while 25% of all women develop fibroadenomas. It is important to distinguish between benign and malignant breast tumors and to catch them early, but that typically requires a doctors’ visit, a mammogram or ultrasound, and a biopsy. When your health insurance includes a deductible and cost sharing, that can turn into hundreds or thousands of dollars in unexpected bills. We hope that by paying a cash benefit for both benign breast masses and breast cancer, we’ll ease the financial burden associated with getting care and encourage early detection.
Brella covers a number of women's health conditions such as Endometriosis, Pelvic Peritonitis, Uterine Prolapse (complete), Torsion of the Ovary, Inverted Uterus, and Leukoplakia of cervix uteri (a common finding of abnormal PAP smear). Conditions like these aren’t typically covered by traditional supplemental health insurance plans because they aren’t accidents, don’t always require hospitalization, and aren’t as serious as conditions covered by Critical Illness policies. By covering common, serious gynecological conditions, we’re hoping to ease the financial strain that can come with women's health care.
While we don’t cover maternity conditions (yet!), we do cover children who are born prematurely as this can be a huge unexpected cost when our youngest members enter the world. This condition really highlights the flexibility of our plan design. There’s a big difference between a baby who is born 4 weeks premature and one who is 8 or 12 weeks premature. Our plan pays benefits for preterm birth or low birth weight on a sliding scale, so parents might receive a Moderate, Severe, or Catastrophic benefit payout depending on their newborn’s situation.
Here's what I hope you'll take away from this—
If women are more exposed to health issues and associated costs, why don’t more of them have supplemental health insurance? The sad reality is that traditional supplemental plans like accident, critical illness, and hospital indemnity policies don’t provide enough coverage for women's health conditions. We designed Brella with flexible benefits and wide-ranging supplemental coverage to fill gaps like this and bring extra financial support to employees and their families.