Health reform: Women may be winners

July 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM
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NEW YORK, July 14 (UPI) -- U.S. women may be the big winners when it comes to healthcare reform, not only those who are uninsured, but those with insurance, researchers say.

The report by the Commonwealth Fund, a U.S. non-profit group that conducts independent research on health policy, estimated once fully implemented, the Affordable Care Act would cover nearly all women, reducing the uninsured rate among women from 20 percent to 8 percent.

Twenty percent of U.S. women -- 18.7 million -- ages 19-64 were uninsured in 2010, up from 15 percent -- 12.8 million -- in 2000, the report found.

Twenty-six percent of U.S. women with health insurance ages 19-64 had medical bill problems from 2009 to 2010, 39 percent spent $1,000 or more on out-of-pocket medical costs and 43 percent said they went without recommended care, skipped seeing a doctor when they were sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of cost, the report found.

Fifty-two of U.S. women with insurance said they were confident they would be able to afford the healthcare they need if they became seriously ill.

Fifty-one percent of uninsured U.S. women had a problem paying medical bills and 77 percent went without needed healthcare due to cost, the report said.

In 2011, an estimated 20.4 million women benefited from provisions already implemented by the Affordable Care Act requiring all private insurance plans to provide preventive services such as screening for cervical, breast, and colon cancer; cholesterol checks; and osteoporosis and chlamydia screening without a co-pay or deductible charge.

Beginning in August, private insurance plans will cover an additional set of preventive services tailored specifically for women, including family planning services without cost to them.

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