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Wednesday
May112011

Health Care Costs Hit Women Harder Than Men, Study Finds

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women, particularly Hispanic and low-income females, have been hit harder than their male counterparts by the weak economy and higher health care costs, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Nearly one-in-three women between the ages of 19 and 64 -- about 27 million of them -- did not have insurance in 2010, the Commonwealth Fund's 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey found.  Nearly double that number, 45 million, said they delayed or avoided health care coverage because of costs.

Young and Hispanic women, and those with low and moderate incomes, were particularly hard hit.  Half of the women whose incomes fell below 133 percent of the poverty line were uninsured last year, while more than half of all Hispanic women fell in that category.

Nearly 50 percent of working-age women surveyed said that because of cost considerations, they could not fill a prescription, skipped a recommended test, treatment or follow-up and did not visit a specialist when they needed to.

The report found that young women specifically face heavy barriers when looking for coverage.  Few plans offer maternity coverage and, overall, most insurance plans have higher premiums for women than they do for men of the same age.

Insurance costs have risen steadily.  Average premiums for family coverage have increased 114 percent since 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Insurance companies attribute the rise in costs to medical technology, new medicines and more expensive prescription drugs.  The overall aging of the population and administrative costs also play a significant role.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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