The report by Elizabeth M. Patchias and Judith G. Waxman of the National Women’s Law Center finds that women are at a disadvantage because they have greater health care needs and lower incomes than men. More specifically, the report finds that 38 percent of women are struggling with medical bills compared with 29 percent of men. And, the high cost of health care services and premiums is forcing many women, even women with health insurance, to go without needed care.

In fact, 33 percent of insured women and 68 percent of uninsured women don’t get the health care they need because they can’t afford it. In contrast, 23 percent of insured and 49 percent of uninsured men are avoiding care because of cost. Further, 16 percent of women are underinsured, meaning they have high out-of-pocket costs compared to their income, while only 9 percent of men are underinsured.

"Women are more likely than men to go without needed health care services because of costs, yet they still have higher out-of-pocket expenses. This disparity exists for both insured and uninsured women," said Waxman, vice president for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center. "As policymakers and advocates explore how to expand and improve health coverage, they should ensure that any proposal provides comprehensive benefits and low cost-sharing."

Other factors contribute to this gender gap in health care coverage and access: women are slightly more likely than men to purchase coverage in the individual insurance market which is often more expensive and less comprehensive than employer coverage. Women are also more likely than men to take prescription drugs.; Source: Commonwealth Fund