New report reveals how women suffer without health care
(May 7) Jamie Braxton doesn’t want a handout—she just wants to be able to get health care.
“I am not looking for free health care,” said the 43-year-old McHenry resident. “I work very hard—maybe 50 hours a week—but the prices are so outrageous that even if we scrimped and saved health care is not even a remote possibility.”
Braxton is like all too many of the women chronicled in the study “A Profile of Uninsured Women in Illinois,” commissioned by Chicago Foundation for Women and done by Health & Disability Advocates. The study found that women need more health care than men and often are less likely to receive it. Latinas, younger women and low-income women are the most likely not to have health insurance, which means they are risking not just their physical but their fiscal health as well.
“Women are suffering. Spiraling health care costs and lack of coverage mean that more women are risking their physical and fiscal health by going without needed health care,” said Hannah Rosenthal, executive director of Chicago Foundation for Women. “This study shows us that Latinas, younger women and low-income women are the women most at risk and too often going without health insurance because they can’t get it and they can’t afford it.”
Stephani Becker, senior policy analyst for Health & Disability Advocates, said, “There are 652,000 uninsured women in Illinois—that means one out of six women ages 19 to 64 are uninsured, but in Chicago the number jumps to one in four, and for Latinas, it is one in three.”
The two organizations were joined last Friday by Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area and Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition for a policy briefing. All of the groups agreed—women need Gov. Blagojevich’s Illinois Covered health care expansion plan because affordable and accessible health care is crucial.
“Every day we see far too many women coming to us who have fallen through the health care cracks. They are not getting prescription drugs or the doctor care they need,” said Laura Leon, associate director of Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition.
Said Tracy Fischman, vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area, “Governor Blagojevich already has stepped up to the plate by expanding Medicaid coverage for tens of thousands of women and families through the FamilyCare and All Kids programs. But there’s much more to do and this bold plan does it.”
Braxton doesn’t have health insurance because she can’t find an affordable policy. Since she was diagnosed with AIDS she now is classified by insurers as having a “pre-existing condition.” As a result, she goes without check-ups and prescriptions and still is paying off a large medical bill.
“I was diagnosed with cervical cancer,” she said—something she believes doctors would have caught and treated early if she could have afforded regular pap smears. “Now I have an $11,000 bill I am still paying off monthly,” she said. “It could have been a lot easier if I had gotten preventive care.”
Braxton, who owns her own medical transcript company, doesn’t know if she will ever get health insurance again.
“I can’t afford private health care insurance, which is about $900 a month—and that was the cheapest quote I got,” she said. “It’s just not right. Health care should not be reserved for a chosen few. It should be a right for all of us.”
Urge your legislator to pass Illinois Covered, an expansion of health care insurance in Illinois. For more information contact Susy Schultz, director of advocacy and communications, at (312) 577-2825 or firstname.lastname@example.org.