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ACA & Women

Health Care Equity Can’t Wait: Women with Compounding Barriers

This post is part of the Health Equity Can’t Wait, Act now in your CommUNITY blog carnival launched by the Health Equity and Accountability Act Working Group; you can see all posts on the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) website by linking, here.

For the past two days we have been blogging on the importance of achieving health equity and eliminating disparities that exist between racial and ethnic minorities through health care reform. We have given the perspective on how this specifically affects women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Because of the importance of this issue, we want to reiterate the importance of achieving health care equity for women – with minority women being even more likely than white women to be uninsured. But beyond women who are of a racial or ethnic minority, other barriers also affect the ability for women to become insured and some women face a combination of these barriers – referred to as compounding barriers.

Rural women. Rural women face unique barriers to health care. They are less likely to be able to get to their doctor’s appointments or to have access to a health care provider. In response, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) advocates for meaningful health care reform implementation because it creates incentives for providers to choose to work in rural settings. Health care reform also will increase the amount of community health centers – the main health care provider for rural women.

Women in the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ populations also face unique barriers to health care. Women, in general, are less likely to access health care through their employer – making access through a spouse’s plan crucial to many women. This creates special difficulties for women who are part of the LGBTQ community, as many health plans do not cover unmarried domestic partners.

Racial and ethnic minority women. We have already discussed over the past two days the startling statistics that affect racial and ethnic minority women. This comes in the form of lower life expectancy, disparities in birth outcomes, and even the quality of care received.

Even more startling is the statistics when barriers are combined. For instance:

  • LGB* African American women are least likely to have had a mammogram within the last two years
  • LGB* adults are least likely to be insured
  • LGB* African American adults are most likely to have diabetes
  • LGB* Pacific Islander or Asian adults are most likely to face psychological distress
  • LGB* Latino adults are most likely to abuse alcohol

What we advocate for. WAWH, as previously stated, works to raise awareness and support for health care reform implementation. Women who face compounding barriers such as the ones aforementioned have increased health care options with reform that can help to reduce disparities. In 2014, when health insurance exchanges are up and running, women who does not have access to insurance – be it a lack of insurance through their employer, lack of insurance through their partner’s employer or a variety/combination of reasons – will have access to quality insurance through the exchange or through Medicaid.

Further, health care reform requires a more robust method of reporting data. In order to continue to reduce disparities and attain health equity, we will need to have the necessary data to properly identify disparities. This means no longer using “umbrella” terms like Hispanic and reporting of sexual identity in the appropriate category by expanding the options used for reporting – like transgender*.

Beyond WAWH’s education and raising awareness efforts around health reform, Project Director Amy Olejniczak also launched the Wisconsin Adolescent Health Care Communication Program (WAHCCP) in 2010. Amy works to bridge the communication gap between all Wisconsin teens, including those of all genders, orientations and identities, and their health care providers. The success of her efforts and leadership contributions to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community within the past year led to her being selected as a recipient of the 2011 Diverse & Resilient Adult Ally Award.

Healthy Equity Can’t Wait. Wisconsin women. Wisconsin rural women. Wisconsin LGBTQ women. Wisconsin Minority women. Wisconsin women with disabilities. Wisconsin women win with health care reform!

*LGB is used because specific data is not available for the transgender populations – making reporting reforms important for the LGBTQ community.

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