Women's health insurance in United States

Even insured women in the U.S. have more medical bill worries and problems with healthcare than in other nations with universal healthcare.

According to a new Commonwealth Fund report, millions of American women still lack sufficient health insurance. In 2010 20 percent (18.7 million) of women aged 19-64 were uninsured. This number has increased from 15 percent in 2000. An additional 16.7 million women were underinsured in 2010, compared with 10.3 million in 2003.

The report suggests under the Affordable Care Act nearly all women will be covered by health insurance. Ultimately, the rate of uninsured women should drop from 20 percent to eight percent.

In the report, researchers examined the differences between how American women and women in ten countries with universal healthcare manage healthcare issues. They found double the number of insured women in the U.S. have problems paying medical bills than women in the other countries. One-fourth (26%) of American women have problems paying medical bills. This compares with 13 percent in Australia, 12 percent in France and four percent in Germany.

In the United States 43 percent of insured women said they went without needed care, didn’t see a doctor when sick and failed to fill prescriptions because of the cost. This compares with 28 percent in Australia and Germany and only 7 percent in the UK.

Barriers between women and healthcare

Another report by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) indicated within healthcare a gender disparity exists in the United States. Women have more complex health needs than men, Pregnancy, reproductive care, longer life expectancy and a higher incidence of chronic illness all make women more likely to need medical assistance than men.

Women have been reported to be the main decision makers with regards to family health. Unfortunately, the report shows women are faced with economic and logistic barriers which hinder their access to the health system.

The barriers include:

  • Lack of coverage
  • Non-comprehensive coverage
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Restrictions on physician choice
  • Lack of time due to an imbalance between work and family responsibilities.

In a statement, Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said, “We are on the cusp of a remarkable feat—providing comprehensive, affordable health insurance to almost all American women.

“It is crucial that states actively work to implement the reform law and take full advantage of all the benefits the Affordable Care Act stands to offer to their residents so that all American families are able to benefit from the law’s potential.”