The XX Factor

Fox News Worries That Women Are Taking Up Too Much Health Care

Tuesday morning, Fox and Friends decided, for reasons that are hazy at best, that their latest attack on Obamacare should be on one of the most noncontroversial provisions in the law: the ban on gender rating for insurance premiums. Dr. David Samadi came on the show to argue that because women use more health care—mostly because they live longer on average, tend to see doctors for checkups more, and because child-bearing is expensive—they should be required to pay more. This newfound enthusiasm for strict economic fairness between men and women sadly did not lead Fox to also advocate that men stop getting paid more than women for their work, even though they had a perfect opportunity to do so on Monday, which was Women’s Equality Day

While it’s not surprising that Fox News is in the business of trying to stoke male resentment of women by insinuating women are getting something for nothing, one would hope this ploy is beneath even the low standards of the Fox audience. As Gretchen Carlson couldn’t help but point out in reference to childbirth costs, starting a pregnancy takes two people, but bringing it to fruition only takes one. Samadi didn’t really have a good rejoinder to that. “Not always,” he said, creating one of those situations where you really wish a follow-up question was asked. Was he suggesting that the ridiculously small number of pregnancies created in single or lesbian women by sperm donors was justification enough to spare men the responsibility of sharing childbirth costs?

There’s no way of knowing, since he blew right past Carlson’s objections to complain that since women have breasts and gonads whereas poor men only have gonads, women need to pay what amounts to $1 billion more a year in insurance premiums. What went completely unmentioned, as often does in these resentment narratives, is that since many men and women share household expenses, that $1 billion loss, just as with women’s lost income due to pay inequity, lowers the standard of living for millions of husbands and boyfriends across the nation. In case men are your only concern. 

While Samadi was game to play along with the women-are-stealing-health-care narrative, it was clear that what he really wanted to talk about was the “problem” of all the poors getting health care. He had what he considered a perfect solution to fix all the problems with the health care system: You don’t get health care unless you have the cash to pay for it. While he made an exception for accidents and other emergency room costs—he supports a catastrophic insurance system—his solution for all other health care was nutty even by Fox News standards: “When it comes to your CAT scans, X-rays, doctors, you have to come in with your credit card or cash and say, ‘I’d like to see the doctor.’ “

He added, “That would take care of all of this stuff,” presumably by pricing all but the wealthiest Americans out of having health care at all. If your main concern is making sure that women don’t get a single iota more doctor attention than men do, then he’s got a point there. After all, not only do women make less money than men on average, but women are far more likely to live in poverty than men. Of course, such a system would dramatically reduce the number of patients for doctors to see, which would probably make medicine a much less lucrative career for people like Samadi, but I guess that’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make to stop this horrible injustice of lower-income people, especially women, thinking that health care is a right instead of a luxury.