Women With Employer Insurance More Likely to Report Unaffordability of Care

Reported unaffordability was higher for women than men for medical care, dental care, prescription medication, and mental health care.

HealthDay News — A higher proportion of women than men with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) report that they are unable to afford needed health care, according to a research letter published in the Dec. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Avni Gupta, M.P.H., and José A. Pagán, Ph.D., both from the New York University School of Global Public Health in New York City, examined reported differences between men and women with ESI in obtaining affordable health care over the last two decades. Analysis included data from 238,852 participants (aged 19 to 64 years) in the National Health Interview Survey (2000 to 2020).

The researchers found that reported unaffordability was higher for women than men for medical care, dental care, prescription medication, and mental health care. The mean prevalences of reported unaffordability for women and men, respectively, were 3.9 and 2.7 percent for medical care; 8.1 and 5.4 percent for dental care; 5.2 and 2.7 percent for prescription medication; and 2.1 and 0.8 percent for mental health care. For both men and women, reported inability to afford most needed health care services increased from 2000 to the first change point (2009 to 2010), decreased until the second change point (2013 to 2017), and increased thereafter.

“Although the Affordable Care Act extended ESI coverage to uninsured young adults through its dependent coverage provision, eliminated cost sharing for preventive services, and implemented maternal care coverage, rising health care costs, growth in high-deductible plans, and increased out-of-pocket health care expenditures may have contributed to increased unaffordability in recent years,” the authors write.

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