As part of its Online Series on Health Reform, HealthReform.gov reports these disturbing facts about women’s health care:
* less than 50% of women can get employer-based health insurance and even when they work for an employee that offers coverage, one in six is not eligible to take it, often because they are part-time workers;
* a 22 year-old woman can be changed one and a half times more than a 22 year-old man in the individual insurance market;
* more than 50% of women have delayed care due to cost;
* state and federal laws that protect individuals with employer-sponsored insurance do not apply to health insurance sold in the individual market. These include anti-discrimination protections in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which prohibits covered employers from charging different premiums or denying coverage based on age or health status;
* in the individual insurance market, many states allow insurance companies to calculate premiums based on an individual’s characteristics such as existing health problems, age, and gender.
The most startling revelation of all is that it is still legal in nine states for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence, effectively punishing women for being the victims of violence! Sounds more like the behavior we would expect to find in Saudi Arabia than in the United States of America. This is completely unacceptable.
It is women who take on the lion’s share of responsibility for the health care of children. Overwhelmingly, women are the ones who must leave paying jobs to become caregivers to elderly parents or other relatives. Woman bear the physical burden of childbirth and need ongoing care throughout our reproductive lives.
Unfortunately, women are finding access to basic health care services lacking due to the inability to afford medical insurance.
A big part of the problem is our system of having group medical insurance tied to place of employment. It’s a system that may have made sense at one time, but it just doesn’t work anymore, and women are getting the short end of the stick.
Women must lead the fight for health care reform.
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