Women at Greater Risk if Health Care Reform Isn't Implemented

by Linda Bennett  |  May 20, 2011

According to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund, the combination of rapidly rising health care costs and sluggish income growth has led to losses in health care coverage among women and increased difficulty in both receiving medical care and paying for it.

Nearly one of three women aged 19 to 64 — an estimated 27 million women — were uninsured during 2010. Of these uninsured women, half were in families with at least one-full-time worker. In all, some 42 million women — insured and uninsured alike — reported problems paying medical bills.

Over the past decade, U.S. adults have spent more and more of their income on health insurance and health care. Of an estimated 26 million working-age women, one-third spent at least ten percent of their income on health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs medical costs in 2010. This is a marked increase from 2001, when 25% of women spent that amount.

The obstacles women face are the result of rapidly rising health care costs, a decline in real median family incomes, and the fact that women’s incomes continue to lag behind men’s.

The prevalence of women’s problems paying for health care — whether or not they have insurance — highlights the need for implementing the Affordable Care Act. The changes required by the Affordable Care Act will ease the growing health care cost burden plaguing so many women, particularly those in low- and moderate-income families.

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