Magazine article The Nation's Health

Report: U.S. Women Have More Trouble with Medical Bills, Insurance Coverage

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Report: U.S. Women Have More Trouble with Medical Bills, Insurance Coverage

Article excerpt

A startling number of U.S. women are uninsured or have problems with their health plans, according to a Commonwealth Fund report released July 13.

A comparison of the United States to 10 countries with universal coverage shows that twice as many U.S. women have trouble paying their medical bills as women in other industrialized countries. Only 52 percent of U.S. women believe that they could afford to pay these medical bills in the event of a significant injury or illness, the report said, compared to 91 percent in the United Kingdom, 77 percent in the Netherlands and 76 percent in Switzerland.

The number of uninsured women in the United States has grown by almost 6 million in the past 10 years to 18.7 million in 2010. The industrialized nations in the study were able to avoid the problem with universal health care, the report's authors found.

Last year, 43 percent of American women said they did not seek the care they needed, and even when sick they did not see a doctor or get a prescription because they could not afford the cost. Even those who had private insurance reported spending as much as $1,000 out-of-pocket for medical services. Only 28 percent of women in Germany and Austria, 8 percent in the Netherlands and 7 percent in the United Kingdom reported skipping necessary care, while 24 percent of women in Germany, 1 percent in Sweden, and fewer than 1 percent in the United Kingdom reported such high out-of-pocket expenses.

The report said that the Affordable Care Act will improve these statistics, and has already helped scores of women. Since the law was enacted, more than 20 million women have profited from the additional screenings for cancer, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. About 3 million women younger than 26 also benefited from staying on their parents' health plans, the report said. …

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