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Women More Likely to Skip Needed Care Due to Cost

Women have greater out-of-pocket expenses than men

THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women have greater difficulty than men in affording health insurance and have greater out-of-pocket expenses even if they do have insurance, leading more women than men to forgo needed care, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Elizabeth M. Patchias and Judith G. Waxman, of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C., analyzed data from the 2005 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey; the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey; and the 2005 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey.

They found that women generally had lower incomes and greater difficulty paying premiums, with 38 percent of women reporting difficulty with medical bills compared with 29 percent of men. Women were also more likely to forgo medical care due to cost, with 33 percent of insured women and 68 percent of uninsured women avoiding care compared with 23 percent and 49 percent of men, respectively. Women also had greater health care needs and were more likely to take prescription drugs.

"The combination of lower incomes and higher out-of-pocket spending means that many women are more likely to spend greater than 10 percent of their income on health care expenditures and premiums," the report concluded. "Given these factors, policy proposals that provide comprehensive benefits at affordable cost would help more women obtain meaningful coverage."

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