HHS: Women face larger roadblocks to health care

Women face higher costs for health insurance and are more likely to lack health insurance according to a report released Wednesday by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Titled, “Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System Does Not Work For Women,” the report found that because women are less likely than men to be employed full time (52 percent versus 73 percent), women were less likely to have health insurance. Twenty-one million women were without health insurance in 2007.

“All Americans are suffering under the current system, but women and small businesses are paying a particularly heavy price,” said Sebelius in a statement. “Millions of women are uninsured, and small businesses are struggling to give their workers the care they need and deserve. We can’t wait to pass comprehensive health care reform and give women – and all Americans – the health care system we need.”

Single women are twice as likely as married women to lack health insurance, according to the report, with 24 percent of single women and 12 percent of married women without health insurance.

Health insurance premiums were also found to be higher for women. They paid 1 1/2 times more for health insurance on the individual market than men. Also, women used medical services more frequently than men, particularly reproductive health services.

“The report from Secretary Sebelius underscores the real need to ensure that women have access to quality, affordable reproductive health care as part of any health reform effort,” said Sarah Stoesz of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS). “The findings of the report reaffirm what we see firsthand at Planned Parenthood health centers every day.”

Stoesz said that PPMNS has seen demand for long term contraception skyrocket in the last year, with a 54 percent increase.

“Women can do the math. They know if they are about to lose their insurance, if their hours are being cut back, that reliable long term contraception makes fiscal sense,” said Stoesz.


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