WomenTALK® 2018 Survey Reveals Majority of Women Are Struggling to Understand Health Insurance Coverage
RED BANK, N.J., Sept. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Even though almost nine in 10 women in the U.S. (86 percent) have some form of health insurance, a new national survey finds women are paying significantly more for their health care while confronting mounting obstacles that keep them from getting quality care and, in some cases, the care prescribed by their health care providers.
The WomenTALK 2018 survey released by HealthyWomen, the nation's leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women, shows that obtaining adequate health insurance is an increasing challenge for American women who worry their plan may not cover important health services or will require deductibles and copays that put the cost of certain treatments out of reach. In fact, less than a third (31 percent) of the 1,001 women surveyed say they are very confident their insurance provides adequate coverage, meaning more than two thirds (69%) are not very confident their plan will meet their health needs.
Findings from WomenTALK 2018 also underscore the difficulties for women when purchasing health insurance. Almost half of the women surveyed (47 percent) say the most important factor when selecting a health plan is the cost of premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and copay costs for treatment and health services. Yet, 60 percent of those surveyed find it difficult to locate plan details and understand what the plan covers.
These findings are even more significant and timely given the availability of "skinny," or limited-benefit, health plans. While few of the women polled expressed an interest in insurance that offers low-monthly premiums but leaves patients with medical bills for their health care and offers minimal benefits, consumers may be enticed to buy a skinny plan soon. New regulations go into effect in October 2018, allowing insurers to offer this form of coverage for up to one year.
Additional highlights from the survey include:
- When selecting a health plan, women across all age groups rank access to primary care and regular preventive services as the most important benefit (77 percent), followed by prescription drug coverage (74 percent), emergency care and hospital services (73 percent), and access to specialty care physicians (67 percent).
- Today, more than half of women with health insurance (54 percent) have experienced care delays while their physicians waited to get prior authorization so the health plan will cover a prescribed medication or medical treatment.
- For women waiting for a prior authorization decision, less than one in four (23 percent) received insurance approval the same day. In contrast, 35 percent waited two to six days, 16 percent waited seven to 14 days, and 10 percent waited more than two weeks.
- Four in 10 women with chronic health conditions (39 percent) said their medication coverage changed in 2017 resulting in 45 percent having to switch medications. Of those forced to switch, 37 percent said the new drug was less effective than the original therapy.
- 37 percent of women in the U.S. have difficulty paying for their prescription medicines and the number is significantly higher for those with a chronic condition (48 percent) and those without health insurance (52 percent).
"This survey clearly shows that whether or not you have adequate, or even above average health insurance, there is an increasing need for women to not only be educated about their coverage, but to do their research and read the fine print, rather than waiting until they're in health crisis to find out what their insurance does and does not cover," says Beth Battaglino, RN, CEO of HealthyWomen. "The reality is that regardless of the health need, whether it is helping a family member treat opioid use disorder, for example, or accessing your own preventive care services, women face challenges when it comes to their health insurance coverage. Do your homework, understand your benefits - from covered health screenings to prescription medicines - and ask questions, or ask for help."
To view the complete WomenTALK survey report, please visit www.healthywomen.org/womentalk2018.
About WomenTALK® 2018
Conducted for HealthyWomen by Kramer Research, LLC, with Online Survey Solutions, WomenTalk 2018 is a national survey of 1,001 U.S. women between ages 35 and 64 who completed a 15-minute online survey between April 30 and May 7, 2018. The nationwide sample was drawn and balanced to represent the U.S. census based on education and income level, and all 50 states and the District of Columbia were included in this study.
HealthyWomen is the nation's leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women. Our mission is to educate women to make informed health choices for themselves and for their families. For 30 years, millions of women have turned to HealthyWomen for answers to their most personal health care questions. HealthyWomen provides objective, research-based health information reviewed by medical experts to ensure its accuracy.
Nothing is more important to our health than access to competent and affordable care and the safety of our medications and health care delivery practices. HealthyWomen works to educate women about health policy issues in these and other areas. We recognize the importance of clinical trials to improving women's health and support women's health research, particularly where sex may make a difference in research results. HealthyWomen advocates on behalf of women to ensure that women's health is a primary focus of policy makers and advocacy groups. Our investment in developing science-based information and our effort to incorporate perspectives reflected by advances in research and technology will further our mission to provide women with relevant and accurate health resources. For more information, please visit www.HealthyWomen.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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