A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund, “Oceans Apart,” details the higher rate of women in the US not getting the care they need as compared to women from 10 other countries.
The figures, from 2010, show that nearly 19 million women ages 19-64 were without insurance in 2010, up by about one-third from 1000. Nearly 17 million more women had health insurance but had such high out-of-pocket costs that they couldn’t afford care — making them effectively uninsured.
In all, the survey showed, 43 percent of US women were not able to access the care they needed because of cost. Among women who were uninsured all year, that rate was 77 percent.
So much for the idea that the number of uninsured are inflated by people with plenty of money not buying insurance because they just don’t want to.
These women skipped medications, decided to forgo mammograms, PAP tests and other tests and treatments, meaning that if they did have health issues, those problems were made much worse — even deadly — because of lack of access to care. That also makes care, when they do get it, far more expensive.
Now look at the numbers in other countries. None of them is perfect, but the rates of women not getting care because of cost are far, far lower. Look at the United Kingdom with its state-run system. Just 7 percent, and the Netherlands is at 8 percent.
I don’t know the rates for men, who need screening for prostate cancer, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But their insurance rates are lower — in some instances 50 percent lower — for the same coverage.
In 2014, our rates of uninsured will go down, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. How far depends on the willingness of states to expand Medicaid coverage to everyone with an income less than 133 percent of federal poverty level.
Health reform isn’t finished, but we are starting to see improvements. Maybe in a few years we won’t be coming in at the very bottom of every measure of care.