Women's Health Insurance Linked to Education


It appears that among women, the less education you have the more likely you are not to have health insurance. That is the finding of a policy brief that emerged from a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Health Policy Research that evaluated women’s health insurance.

Researchers used data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) as the basis for their evaluation. Their analysis revealed that during 2007, nearly 2.5 million women in California between the ages of 18 and 64 had no health insurance. Overall, women who did not have a high school diploma were nearly four times more likely to be uninsured as women who had a college degree. That is, 42 percent of women without a college degree had no insurance compared with 11 percent of those with a degree.

Women who were most likely to be uninsured were Latinas (35 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Natives (26 percent), single without children (28 percent), single mothers (27 percent), and those with a very low income (42 percent).

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Women who had a college education were also more likely to have their health insurance through their employer: 75 percent had such coverage, compared with 49 percent of women with a high school diploma and 23 percent who did not graduate from high school.

In another, earlier study conducted by the Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, researchers analyzed women’s (ages 18 to 64) health insurance coverage by state for the entire nation. They found that overall, 62.6 percent had coverage through an employer, 5.9 percent got coverage through an individual plan, 10.2 percent were on Medicaid, 3.2 percent were getting other public assistance, and 18.1 percent had no health insurance. Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured women—5.6 percent—while Texas had the highest at 29.2 percent. The study did not look at education.

In the UCLA study, Roberta Wyn, lead author of the brief and a women’s health expert, noted that “health insurance coverage and education are clearly linked.” She also pointed out that since the 2007 CHIS was conducted, the decline in the economy likely made their numbers worse. The fact that with the health reform passage, young women will be able to get coverage on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26 will help some women, although it remains to be seen how many will be able to take advantage of this option.

UCLA news release June 17, 2010
Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured