Health care is increasingly unaffordable for people with employer-sponsored health insurance — especially women

Health care is becoming less affordable for U.S. adults — especially women — with employer-sponsored health insurance, according to an analysis by researchers at New York University’s School of Global Public Health published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“In recent years, employer-sponsored health insurance has become less adequate in providing financial protection for all types of health services,” said Avni Gupta, a doctoral student in the Department of Public Health Policy and Management at NYU’s School of Global Public Health. and the lead author of JAMA analysis.

The majority of working-age adults in the US (61% as of 2019) obtain health insurance through their employers. Despite improvements in employer-sponsored insurance from the Affordable Care Act—including extending coverage for parents to uninsured young adults, eliminating copayments and deductibles for preventive services, and implementing coverage for maternal care—healthcare and out-of-pocket costs continue to rise.

Using the National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative annual survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers analyzed data from 2000 to 2020 on more than 238,000 adults ages 19 to 64 who received your health coverage through an employer or union.

Women with employer-sponsored insurance perceived all types of health services to be less accessible than men. On average, 3.9% of women and 2.7% of men reported that medical care was unavailable, 8.1% of women and 5.4% of men said that dental care was unavailable, 5.2% of women and 2.7% of men said prescription drugs were unavailable and 2.1% of women and 0.8% of men reported mental health care was unavailable.

“Lower incomes and higher health care needs among women may account for these differences in reported affordability,” Gupta said. “Employer-sponsored insurance plans must redesign their benefit packages to reduce gender disparities.”

In the two decades studied, both women and men found that almost all health services were less accessible in recent years compared to the early 2000s (although accessibility for some services improved in certain years). For example, roughly 6% of women say medical care is unaffordable in 2020, compared to 3% in 2000, and roughly 3% of men say medical care is unaffordable in 2020, compared to 2% in 2000. Mr.

“People with employer-provided health insurance coverage generally think they are protected, but our findings show that health-related benefits decline over time,” said Jose A. Pagan, professor and chair of the Department of Policy and public health management at the NYU School of Global Public Health and co-author of JAMA analysis.

Mental health and dental services showed particularly troubling trends in affordability. Women’s inability to afford mental health care increased sharply in the last few years studied — tripling from about 2% to more than 6%, while the inability of both men and women to afford dental services consistently remained the highest of all services every year from 2000 to 2020.

About the New York University School of Global Public Health

At the NYU School of Global Public Health (NYU GPH), we prepare the next generation of public health pioneers with the critical thinking skills, insight, and entrepreneurial approaches needed to reinvent the public health paradigm. Dedicated to utilizing a non-traditional, interdisciplinary model, NYU GPH aims to improve global health through a unique combination of global public health research, research and practice. The school is located in the heart of New York and extends to NYU’s global network on six continents. Innovation is at the heart of our ambitious approach, thinking and teaching. For more information, visit:

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