What the $15 Minimum Wage Bill Could Mean for Women’s Health

Today, members of Congress are introducing the Raise the Wage Act, a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. Raising the minimum wage from the current, measly $7.25 an hour would be a giant leap forward for working women and families. In fact, the bill would mean more than 41 million workers would get an average raise of nearly $3,500 by 2024, including 1 in 3 working women!
That could be a game changer not only for women’s economic security but also for their health. For women making the minimum wage, health care costs can be insurmountable. In a 2014 study, one in four women reported delaying or forgoing health care in the past year because of the cost. If opponents of health care have their way, those numbers could get even worse. While raising the minimum wage alone won’t solve this problem, it will make it easier for women to afford the care they need.  So what does that look like in a woman’s day to day life if she is forced to pay out of pocket?

  • Someone who wants an IUD will have to spend 36% of her monthly income at $7.25 an hour. At $15 an hour she will only need to spend 17%.
  • A new mom trying to cover the costs of a breast pump needs nearly a full week’s income—a full 37 hours—to pay for her pump at $7.25 an hour. At $15 an hour it will take her 18 hours to make the money needed.
  • For a woman trying to pay for an abortion, a $15 minimum wage would mean earning enough money to cover the procedure in four fewer days than if she makes only $7.25, which is particularly important since abortion is a time sensitive procedure.

For these women, a $15 minimum wage may mean they don’t have to choose between their health needs and their rent that month, between birth control and trying to put away some money for savings, between paying for their doctor’s appointment or their kid’s appointment.