BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

She’s Gotta Have It!

Posted by sherrysaunders on August 7, 2009

Healthcare reform, that is.womenhealth

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) released a new report, Comprehensive Health Care Reform: An Essential Prescription for Women, on the problems women are facing as they lose their health insurance due to either their own or their spouse’s job loss. It’s no surprise that the JEC report finds that women are particularly vulnerable by their dependence on their spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance.  In addition, during the recent economic down turn younger and older women are more at risk of being un- or under-insured.

The JEC estimates that over 1.4 million women have lost health insurance benefits because of the contraction in the labor market since December 2007. Seventy-one percent (1,001,913) lost their insurance due to a spouse’s job loss and 29 percent (414,964) lost their insurance because of their own job loss.

But it isn’t just the mothers who are now un-insured, as a consequence of single mothers’ losing their jobs, the JEC estimates that at least 121,000 children are now without coverage as well. There has been and spike in newly un-insured children of unemployed single mothers. The weak job market has been rough on single mothers; the number of unemployed female heads of household has increased 53 percent over the past twelve months. Not only have they lost their pay checks but they have also lost their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for their families.

Symposium_graphic_08The report includes very compelling statistics about women and health insurance.  For instance, 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. One recent study concludes that a husband’s transition from employer-sponsored coverage to Medicare at age 65 can be problematic for his younger wife. Many of these wives depended on their spouse’s employer-based coverage and are not yet age-eligible for Medicare. As a result, 75 percent of these women reported delaying filling prescriptions or taking fewer medications than prescribed because of cost.

Younger women also often lack adequate health insurance coverage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over one-quarter (28 percent) of all young women (ages 19-24) do not have health insurance coverage. The bleak job market means that young women are less likely than ever to have access to job-based coverage.

Forty-one percent of all low-income women lack health insurance coverage.  Because of wide variability in state Medicaid eligibility rules, millions of American women fall through the safety net every day. The devastating impact of the recession on state budgets has forced some states to further tighten Medicaid eligibility rules at precisely the time when need is growing fastest.

The health consequences of inadequate coverage are more severe for women than for men. Women are more likely than men to run into problems receiving adequate medical care.

  • Twenty-seven percent of women had health problems requiring medical attention but were not able to see a doctor, compared to 21 percent of men.
  • Nearly a quarter (22 percent) of women reported that they were unable to fill a needed prescription, as compared to 15 percent of men.
  • More than half of health related bankruptcy filings are filed by women-headed  households.

While the financial burden of inadequate health insurance coverage weighs heavily on all Americans, this report confirms that un-insured and under-insured women suffer more severe economic consequences. Women are more likely to deplete their savings accounts in order to pay medical bills. One-third of under-insured women deplete their savings to pay medical bills, as compared to a quarter of under-insured men. The disparity is the same among the un-insured (34 percent women; 29 percent).

We need to reform the U.S. healthcare system.

Read the full JEC report sponsored by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, chair and Senator Charles E. Schumer, vice chair.

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One Response to “She’s Gotta Have It!”

  1. airport said

    Some very interesting points raised here, which has got me thinking!

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