Affordable Care Act Nearly Halved Uninsured Rate for Women

Affordable Care Act Nearly Halved Uninsured Rate for Women

The number of working-age women without health insurance coverage in the United States has fallen by nearly half since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010, a report from the Commonwealth Fund finds.

Based on the 2016 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, the report, How the Affordable Care Act Has Helped Women Gain Insurance and Improved Their Ability to Get Health Care (HTML or 18 pages, PDF), found that the number of uninsured women between the ages of 19 and 64 dropped from nineteen million (20 percent) in 2010 to 11 million (11 percent) in 2016. For low-income women earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, the uninsured rate fell from 34 percent to 18 percent during the same period — with rates down from 31 percent to 12 percent for white women, from 25 percent to 16 percent for African-American women, and from 49 percent to 32 percent for Latinas.

According to the study, the ACA's insurance market reforms, such as requiring plans to include maternity coverage, not charging women more because of their gender, and expanding Medicaid eligibility, significantly improved healthcare access and coverage for women. In 2016, 10 percent and 15 percent of working-age women were covered through the individual market and Medicaid, respectively, up from 5 percent and 10 percent in 2010, while 67 percent of working-age women who tried to buy insurance on the individual market ended up buying a plan (up from 46 percent in 2010) and fewer found it "very difficult or impossible" to find affordable coverage (36 percent, down from 60 percent) or the coverage they needed (25 percent, down from 46 percent).

The report also found that fewer women reported skipping needed care due to cost — down from 48 percent in 2010 to 38 percent in 2016 — or had trouble paying medical bills — down from 47 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2016.

"Before the Affordable Care Act, it was extremely difficult for women not covered through an employer to buy health insurance," said Sara Collins, vice president for healthcare coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, who co-authored the report. "This report finds that the ACA's health insurance market reforms and coverage expansions have enabled millions of women to gain comprehensive insurance with free access to preventive care services critical to their health."