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Womens Health Issues. 2011 Sep-Oct;21(5):331-7. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2011.06.003. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

The new health care law: how will women near retirement fare?

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Department of Sociology & Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.



In 2009, more than 17 million women lacked health insurance coverage in the United States. A disproportionate number of these women were African American or Latino. In addition, many women aged 55 to 64 lack coverage through either their own employment or access to a spouse's plan at a time when they face an elevated risk of long-term and life-threatening illness. The study's objective is to understand the extent to which the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed in March 2010, will increase coverage for pre-retirement age women through the new health insurance exchanges and the expanded Medicaid program.


This study employs the 2009 American Community Survey to compare health insurance coverage among aging women by race and ethnicity.


The results reveal that the new health care law could reduce the number of uninsured pre-retirement age women from 11.7% to 1.9%. However, it is unlikely that all women with the opportunity to access health insurance coverage will do so. In addition, despite the potential increase in access, Mexican-American women are still overrepresented among the uninsured, representing 5.7% of the total uninsured while only comprising 3.3% of all pre-retirement age women.


The research has important implications for how numerous provisions enacted in the new health care law will reduce the number of uninsured adults, particularly vulnerable women. These findings make it clear that Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges will vary across states, and consequently will have potential benefits in particular for low-income minority group women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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