Disparity in access to care for women of color: Select findings from Kaiser Family Foundation report

The passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had major implications for women’s health outcomes and access to care. Some of ACA’s provisions with regards to insurance include mandating maternity care as part of health coverage, providing coverage without cost sharing for preventive services such as contraceptives, and prohibiting women being charged more than men for the same plan.

To assess how the ACA has impacted women’s health and health coverage, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted its “2013 Kaiser Women’s Health Survey“. The survey recorded data from 3015 respondents aged 15-64 through phone interviews (landline and cellular), and disproportionately-stratified to reach more low-income and Black and Latina respondents. 37% of the sample were low-income (below 200% of Federal Poverty Level), 18% either did not complete high school or were currently enrolled, and 35% were employed part-time or unemployed.

Select highlights from the report include:

  • 1 in 4 low-income women reported poor fair/poor health compared to 9% of higher-income women.
  • About 1/3 of its survey respondents were women of color (13% Black, 14% Latina, 9% Asian or other)
  • Approximately 25% of Black and 36% of Latina women within this group were also uninsured. Despite expanded eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies to help women purchase insurance through insurance marketplaces, many of the most low-income women live in states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility.
  • 28% of Latinas reported poor health, compared to 12% White and 16% Black women.
  • A higher percentage of White women (48%) reported having health conditions that required ongoing care and medication maintenance compared to Black women (38%) and Latinas (35%). However, the report attributed this difference to women of color having less access to care. Thus, these individuals may be unaware of having conditions that need ongoing care.

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The report‘s authors recommend increased patient education, affordable care and coverage options, and integrated care systems will be crucial in addressing gaps in care that women experience, especially women of color. For full report, please click here.

Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health

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