(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) released a new report that highlights troubling disparities between low-income women with and without health insurance and the urgent need to expand coverage in the 25 states that have yet to accept increased federal Medicaid funding. The report finds that low-income women without health insurance in those states are significantly less likely to get basic health care and preventive services on a regular basis than women who have similarly low incomes but who are covered by public or private health insurance.
“Mind the Gap: Low-Income Women in Dire Need of Health Insurance” demonstrates the dangers posed by the “coverage gap” created in states that have not yet expanded eligibility for the Medicaid program, leaving more than three million women with no affordable insurance coverage. This gap applies to individuals with incomes below the poverty level who do not otherwise qualify for Medicaid. Women with income above the poverty level are eligible for subsidies for private health insurance through their state insurance marketplace.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states may expand Medicaid eligibility, with the federal government covering 100 percent of Medicaid spending on health services for the newly-covered population in the first three years of implementation and at least 90 percent in later years.
“The Center’s new report uncovers a troubling health care gap for low-income women, more than three million of whom face significant cost barriers to basic and preventive health care simply because they live in states that have not expanded Medicaid,” said NWLC Vice-President for Health and Reproductive Rights Judy Waxman. “For example, low-income women without health insurance report going without needed care because of cost 2.5 times as often as low-income women with insurance. Only half of uninsured women report having a regular health care provider, compared to 88 percent of insured women. These disparities will continue in states that have not expanded health coverage through Medicaid. If state lawmakers care about the health and well-being of their constituents, they should act immediately to expand Medicaid coverage.”
The Center’s state-by-state analysis also found great disparities in access to care. For example, insured low-income women in Oklahoma get their recommended mammograms approximately 2.3 times as often as low-income women without insurance. Insured, low-income women in Texas report having a regular health care provider twice as often as low-income women without health coverage.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthier life,” said NWLC Director of Health Policy Karen Davenport. “By accepting the federal money offered through the ACA to expand Medicaid coverage, states can eliminate the coverage gap and ensure that all low-income women can get the care they need.”
“Mind the Gap: Low-Income Women in Dire Need of Medicaid Coverage” is available at:
Strong Public Support Continues for States to Accept Federal Funds to Cover More Uninsured People Through Medicaid, April 2013: