UNINSURED WOMEN: Can’t Get a Break on Insurance
A quarter of women under age 65 lacked health insurance last year, according to a report released by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on Women's Health. "Despite changes in health care delivery over the past five years, the basic problems confronting women remain the same," notes the report, entitled Health Care Access and Coverage for Women: Changing Times, Changing Issues?. The study finds that the number of uninsured women ages 18-64 increased from 14% in 1993 to 18% in 1998. A large number of the country's 21 million uninsured women are either low wage-earners, minorities, or single women. Over one- third of low-income women are uninsured, while younger women and single women, regardless of age, "are less likely to have private coverage than in the past." The problem is particularly grave in the Hispanic community, where 42% of women have no access to health care coverage. "This lack of coverage can affect their access to care, their financial security, and ultimately their health and well-being," explain the report's lead authors, Deborah Lewis-Idema and Joan Leiman. The future situation is not looking any brighter, they add. Data shows that the rise in uninsured women will continue, "especially among younger generations ... highlight[ing] the need to place expanding insurance coverage firmly on the women's health policy and national agenda." If this fails to happen, the authors assert, women will be forced to eliminate essential preventive care and delay obtaining medical treatment due to cost concerns, thus threatening their lives (The Commonwealth Fund Quarterly, Summer 1999)This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.