Nearly One-Quarter of Women Skipped or Delayed Health Care in the Past Year Because of Cost, Survey Finds
Almost one-quarter of U.S. women said in a survey released yesterday that they had "forgone or delayed needed health care" in the past year due largely to higher-than-expected out-of-pocket costs or the "perception that they could not afford the care," Reuters Health reports. While the survey, designed by researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Princeton Survey Research Associates and analyzed by KFF and University of California-Los Angeles researchers, called the 24% of women who skipped or postponed care a "significant minority," they noted that women were more likely than men to delay care and not fill a prescription (Ault, Reuters Health, 5/7). Last year, researchers conducted telephone interviews with 3,966 women ages 19 to 64, with an emphasis on surveying Latina, African-American, uninsured and low-income women. Researchers also interviewed 700 men for gender comparison purposes. In general, the study found that women's reproductive health needs, higher rate of health problems and longer life spans as compared to men "make their relationships with the health system complex," and that their lower incomes and greater family responsibilities "often complicat[e]" their access to care (Salganicoff et al., "Women's Health in the United States: Health Coverage and Access to Care", May 2002). Among the findings:
- Twenty-four percent of women said they delayed or went without needed care in the prior year because of excessive cost, compared to 16% of men.
- Thirty-two percent of women had a health condition that required ongoing treatment, compared to 26% of men.
- Twenty-one percent of women said they could not afford to fill a needed prescription, compared to 13% of men.
- Eighteen percent of women switched their provider in the past five years because of "dissatisfaction with care," compared to 9% of men.
- About 50% of women used prescription drugs on a regular basis, compared to 31% of men (Kaiser Family Foundation release, 5/7).
Researchers also found that minority and lower-income women had poorer health and were less likely to have health insurance than other women. For example, while 20% of women overall were uninsured, 37% of Latina women lacked coverage (Reuters Health, 5/7). Alina Salganicoff, one of the report's authors, said, "Women's health is about more than Pap smears and mammograms. These findings document the complex and broad nature of women's health and emphasize the importance of addressing health costs, access and quality in improving women's health and well-being" (AP/New York Times, 5/7). An ABC "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" report on the survey is available online in RealPlayer. The full report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.
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