With 38% of American women finding medical bills a serious struggle, compared to 29% of men, a new study released by the Commonwealth Fund reveals that women are much more likely to go without needed healthcare than men, because they cannot afford it. The study was carried out by the National Women’s Law Center, whose researchers examined data from three nationwide surveys.

Insurance and health care services are becoming more expensive, say the researchers. As a consequence, a higher number of women are being forced to go without much needed treatment.

The researchers report that:

— 33% of insured and 68% of uninsured women cannot afford to receive the health care they need

— 23% of insured and 49% of uninsured men cannot afford to receive the health care they need

— 16% of women do not have enough insurance

— 9% of men do not have enough insurance

— Women are more likely to need prescription drugs, compared to men

— Women are less likely to purchase health cover in the individual insurance market than men

— Women have less access to employer-sponsored insurance because they are less likely to be employed and more likely to work part-time

— Women are more likely to depend on their partners for insurance and therefore face more instability in their coverage

— Out-of-pocket costs as a share of income are higher for women than men

— Women are more likely to have debts and problems with their medical bills than men

— 44.8 million Americans have no health coverage at all

— 16 million American adults are underinsured

— 80 million Americans were found to be uninsured at some time during a two-year-period

A patient who does not have enough insurance incurs more out-of-pocket costs.

The three surveys analyzed were:

1 – The Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2005
2 – The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), 2004
3 – The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2005

Women and Health Coverage: The Affordability Gap
Elizabeth M. Patchias, M.P.P., health policy analyst, National Women’s Law Center
Judy Waxman, VP of Health and Reproductive Rights, National Women’s Law Center
National Women’s Law Center
Click here to view the report online (PDF-468k)

Written by Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today