In eighty percent of American families, women make their family’s choices about health coverage. They decide how their family gets coverage – private insurance, public programs or if they have to go without. Women also decide which providers to use – doctors, nurses, community health centers and hospitals.
Women make the health care decisions because we need it more throughout our lives. My mother took me to see a doctor as a teenager, so I could talk with her and ask questions. I have continued this throughout my life. As I have gotten older its my women friends who have become the primary caretakers of their families’ health. They are the ones that make sure their children and partners get health care when they need it. And when women have access to health coverage, it works. Women with health coverage are more likely to obtain needed preventive, primary and specialty care services and have better access to new advances in women’s health.
So where do most women get their health coverage?
Most women in Colorado get health insurance from their employer. Fifty-seven percent of Colorado women between 19 and 64 years old have employer-sponsored health insurance. About ten percent of women, those who are low-income and have a disability or are pregnant, get public coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. About twelve percent of American women have health coverage under Medicare because they are over 65 years old.
A small percentage of women in Colorado have coverage through high–risk pools (in Colorado we have a state program Cover Colorado and a federal program called Getting Us Covered). These programs are for Americans who have been turned down by private insurers because they have a pre-existing condition. Because of women’s higher health care usage and therefore diagnoses, they make up a higher percentage of the high-risk pools, around 55%. (BTW: These high-risk pools are supposed to go away in 2014 because the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. People will be able to purchase affordable and quality health care in state health insurance exchanges.)
Sadly, twenty percent of Colorado women are uninsured. Women make up 55% of Colorado’s uninsured. There are reasons for this difference. Women are more likely to lose insurance because of their job, economic or marital status. Women are more likely to have jobs that do not provide insurance. And women are more likely to stay home to take care of the family and depend on their spouse’s insurance.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping and will continue to help women get access to health care. Reforms to help women access health care in the ACA include, among other things:
- A ban on private insurers charging women for insurance starting in 2014 (which Colorado already has).
- Public coverage expansions for all low-income adults. All Americans under 138% of federal poverty will be eligible for Medicaid.
- The creation of state health care exchanges for more affordable and quality private health insurance, which will include subsidies to help more Americans be able to afford health insurance.
- Reforms to improve Medicare to help seniors (especially women) to get cheaper prescription drugs, and free annual exams and preventive services.
For more information please see CCHI’s fact sheet on Women’s Health Coverage in Colorado.
Also, check out CCHI’s Fact Sheets on the State Exchanges and Women: