Even under PPACA, barriers for women remain

By BenefitsPro

By Kathryn Mayer

Despite provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aimed to help them, women still face health care problems at higher rates than men, a new report finds.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of nearly 3,000 women out Thursday, women are more likely to delay care because of cost than men, and overall, report barriers to care and coverage.

More than a quarter of women — 26 percent — said they delayed care because of cost, compared to 20 percent of men. The survey reveals other obstacles facing women and health care: About one-fifth of women reported skipping recommended tests or treatment (20 percent) and forgoing or skipping prescription medicines (22 percent) at higher rates than men (14 percent and 12 percent, respectively). And 28 percent of women say they had problems paying medical bills, compared to 19 percent of men.

Unsurprisingly, uninsured women were far more likely to face cost barriers than either insured women or those on Medicaid.

But their problems don’t only have to do with money. Women reported having little time, or having a hard time getting off work to go to appointments. Though the problem was widespread across women of all income levels, lower-income women were more likely to say they couldn’t get time off work, get child care, or transportation to a doctor appointment.

These findings emerged in spite of provisions under PPACA aimed specifically to help women get care.

Kaiser researchers pointed out that PPACA provisions such as the “mandatory inclusion of maternity care, coverage without cost sharing for preventive services such as contraceptives, and a prohibition on charging women more than men for the same plan were all designed to address gaps and inequities in women’s health insurance.”

Researchers said that though PPACA can “potentially fill” gaps in coverage and access to care facing women in the future, “many challenges related to the law’s implementation and other structural factors remain.”

The survey found women are benefiting from PPACA in other ways, however. Coverage under a parent’s plan is now the most common way for women under age 26 get coverage, with 45 percent of women ages 18-25 reporting they were covered under a parent’s plan as a dependent, research showed. Women enrolled in private coverage, at higher rates, also reported getting contraceptives through the law.

Overall, however, women surveyed didn’t remain fully aware of provisions that could help them, including the law’s contraceptive mandate and private plan coverage requirements for well woman visits and for other preventive services.

Kaiser Family researchers said a network of clinics, including community health centers and family clinics; work place flexibility, sick leave and child care is especially needed for many women.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com