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Women’s costs for health care outpace men’s

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Women run up 30 percent higher annual medical bills than men do, but it's not necessarily because they're sicker.

A Canadian study found that women's higher medical costs can be explained largely by the expense of pregnancy and childbirth as well as uniquely female diseases.Many studies have found that women use more medical resources, and experts have wondered whether the explanation is that women are more willing to seek care or that they actually get sick more often.

The latest study, directed by Cameron A. Mustard of the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto, was based on a review of all 1.1 million people covered by provincial health insurance in Manitoba in 1994. The results were published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Overall, women's bills averaged $1,164 per year, while men's were $918. The figures are in Canadian dollars.

Twenty-two percent of women's health costs were for specifically female conditions, while just 3 percent of men's health bills were for male conditions, such as prostate treatment.

Since women live longer, their lifelong medical bills are substantially higher than men's. The researchers calculated that up to the year she dies, a woman's lifetime medical expenses in Manitoba average $85,131, while a man's are $58,950.