Publication Date

10-8-2009

Abstract

[Excerpt] The status-quo health insurance system is serving women poorly. An estimated 64 million women lack adequate health insurance. Over half of all medical bankruptcies impact a woman. For too many women and their families today, quality, affordable health care is out of reach.

Women are more vulnerable to high health care costs than men. Several factors explain why. First, women’s health needs differ from men’s, so women are obliged to interact more regularly with the health care system – regardless of whether they have adequate insurance coverage or not. Second, women are more likely to be economically vulnerable and therefore face devastating consequences when faced with a mounting pile of medical bills. The inability of the current system to adequately serve women’s health care needs has come at great expense. One recent study estimates that women’s chronic disease conditions cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

The following brief provides an overview of the basic facts regarding women’s insurance cov-erage, and the consequences of our broken health insurance system on women’s health – both physical and financial. Specifically:

&#; Over one million women have lost their health insurance due to a spouse’s job loss during the current economic downturn.

&#; As a consequence of single mothers’ job loss, the Joint Economic Committee estimates that at least 276,000 children have lost health insurance coverage.

&#; Women between the ages of 55 and 64 are particularly vulnerable to losing their health insurance benefits because of their husbands’ transition from employer-sponsored coverage to Medicare.

&#; Younger women are particularly vulnerable to lacking adequate health insur-ance coverage.

&#; 39 percent of all low-income women lack health insurance coverage

&#; The health consequences of inadequate coverage are more severe for women than for men.

&#; While the financial burden of inadequate health insurance coverage weighs heavily on all Americans, uninsured and under-insured women suffer more se-vere economic consequences than do men.

The comprehensive health care reform proposals offered by the Obama Administration and currently taking shape under the leadership of Democrats in the House and Senate include numerous provisions that are critical to providing quality, affordable health care for all Americans, both women and men. Many of these solutions are a key part of the prescription for easing the burden on America’s women, for whom the status quo health care system is a failure.

Comments

Suggested Citation
Joint Economic Committee. (2009). Comprehensive health care reform: An essential prescription for women. Washington, DC: Author.
http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/key_workplace/716

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