A new Commonwealth Fund report released last Friday shows that American women are more likely to go without needed health care because of cost and have a harder time paying for medical bills than women in 10 other countries with unversal health care systems in place.
These countries included Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia.
A total of 43% of women surveyed in the U.S. reported that they had gone without needed care or had not filled a prescription due to cost in the past year. Only 7% of women in the U.K. reported having the same problem.
The report also showed that the number of unininsured and underinsured women in the U.S. is climbing. 18.7 million women were uninsured in the U.S. in 2010, up from 12.8 million in 2000. In 2010, 16.7 million women were underinsured, up from 10.3 million in 2003.
However, times they are a changing! Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. may soon catch up to other industrialized nations when it comes to women’s health. The health reform law will dramatically lower women’s exposure to high health care costs and remove a number of barriers to health care. And, while a lot of the major insurance expansions won’t start until 2014, a lot of the early reforms are already helping women access affordable care.
The report estimates that, once fully implemented, the ACA will provide near-universal health insurance coverage for women. Only 8% of women are estimated to remain uninsured, compared with the 20% who lack health insurance today.
Click here to read the full Commonwealth Fund report, titled “Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Oceans Apart: The Higher Health Costs of Women in the U.S. Compared to Other Nations, and How Reform Is Helping.”