In 2021, more than 12 million women and girls lacked health insurance; poverty rates still adversely affected women of color at higher rates than their white counterparts; and the wage gap has for women overall widened to 84 cents

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on health insurance, poverty, and income from 2021.

The following is a statement by Dorianne Mason, Director of Health Equity at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“The data provides only a glimpse into a healthcare system that fails to meet the needs of our country. Rates of uninsurance remain high for women of color, and for women who are insured, their coverage may not even provide the health care they need. The Supreme Court’s disastorous decision to overturn the right to abortion will only compound insurmountable barriers to care, and these barriers could force more people into poverty. Until everyone has access to the quality, comprehensive health care they deserve, these numbers will expose only a fraction of the work left to be done.”

Health Insurance Coverage Toplines:

  • Despite nearly 93 percent of women and girls having some form of health insurance in 2021, more than 12.0 million remained uninsured.
  • Uninsurance rates varied by race/ethnicity:
    • Latinx women and girls (16.4 percent) were much more likely than white, non-Hispanic women and girls (4.4 percent) to be without insurance in 2021
    • 7.5 percent of Black women and girls were uninsured last year, along with 6.0 percent of Asian women and girls.
  • One in ten non-elderly adult women were without insurance in 2021, meaning nearly 10.0 million women 19-64 were uninsured last year.
  • Nearly 1 in 9 women of reproductive age (19-54) were uninsured in 2021, meaning more than 8.2 million were without insurance last year.
  • Compared to 2013, nearly 14.7 million more people have health insurance coverage. However, 8.3 percent of people were uninsured in 2021.

The following is a statement by Melissa Boteach, Vice President for Income Security and Child Care/ Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“Today’s data underscores that poverty is a political choice not a personal failing. Even before the pandemic, too many women and families were living paycheck to paycheck – struggling to put food on the table, keep their housing, and afford diapers for their babies. The effects of the pandemic – whether illness or death, job loss, school or child care closures – sent millions of families spiraling downward.

The data released today revealed that more than 1 in 9 women lived in poverty in 2021, and those rates were worse for Black (nearly 1 in 5) and Latina (more than 1 in 6) women. The findings also underscore that when we invest in policies like unemployment protections, tax credits, rental assistance, nutrition assistance, and more – as we did in 2021 – families are protected from poverty and have greater financial security. But those critical investments, like the expanded Child Tax Credit and enhanced Unemployment Insurance coverage, have long since expired, leaving millions of families at the precipice of poverty once again. These numbers should be a wake-up call for lawmakers to permanently invest in the economic supports that families – as well as the health and longevity of our country – so urgently need.”

Poverty Toplines:

  • Nearly 15.3 million women 18 and older, or more than 1 in 9, lived in poverty in 2021.
  • Poverty rates were worse for many women of color: 18.8 percent of Black women and 17.0 percent of Latina women were in poverty last year as compared to 7.1 percent of white, non-Hispanic men.
  • Over 11.1 million children, or over 1 in 7 lived in poverty in 2021.
  • Poverty rates were worse for many children of color: 27.3 percent of Black children and 22.4percent of Latinx children were in poverty last year.
  • Over 3 in 10 female-headed families with children were poor in 2021.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 poor children lived in a female-headed household last year.
  • Women made up more than 6 in 10 seniors who lived in poverty last year, with the poverty rate for senior women at 11.6 percent.
  • In 2021, critical programs and expanded benefits kept millions of people out of poverty:
    • Unemployment insurance lifted 2.3 million people out of poverty in 2021.
    • Refundable tax credits lifted 9.6 million people out of poverty in 2021.
    • Economic impact payments, or stimulus checks, lifted 8.9 million people above the poverty line in 2021.
    • Housing subsidies lifted 2.4 million people out of poverty in 2021.
    • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, kept 2.8 million people above the poverty line in 2021.
    • Social Security lifted 26.3 million people above the poverty line in 2021.
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families lifted 500,000 people out of poverty in 2021.

The following is a statement by Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

“It’s infuriating for women, year after year, to see the wage gap shrink by just a penny. Despite women making up almost half of the workforce, undervaluing the work they do is at the heart of a gender wage gap that’s barely budged in the last decade, and thrives in almost every occupation. Lost earnings compound and women stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime—with some women of color losing a million dollars or more to the wage gap. Since pay discrimination is often cloaked in secrecy, there’s urgency to finally pass laws that will bring pay practices into light such as requirements that salary ranges be posted in job announcements. Equal pay advocates are pressing Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that would bar retaliation against workers who talk about pay and prevent employers from relying on salary history to set pay when hiring new employees—so pay discrimination no longer trails women from job to job.”