Older women who are divorced, separated or widowed or who have never married have twice the uninsured rate of their married peers, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
The study, "Health and Health Care Access Among California Women Ages 50," examines a range of health issues and trends among California's approximately 3 million older women, an age group that often faces new and accelerated chronic health conditions, according to lead author Roberta Wyn, associate director of the center.
"It's a time of critical change for older women," Wyn said. "Not only are they at risk of new and complex health conditions, but as they near the age of retirement, their insurance status may change too."
Women between the ages of 50 and 64 are more prone than younger women to a wide range of health conditions, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Nearly four in 10 women in this age group will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, while nearly six in 10 are either obese or overweight. In both cases, the percentages are higher than for younger women.
The researchers also found that the likelihood of having health insurance was related to a woman's marital status. Using data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey, Wyn and her co-author found that one-quarter of older women who had never married and 21 percent of divorced, separated or widowed women were uninsured more than twice the rates of married women.
"These women have fewer coverage options, including access to family coverage, and Medicare is still several years away for many," Wyn said.
Among all women, low-income women are the most likely to be uninsured (34 percent) and the least likely to have employment-based coverage (24 percent), according to the policy brief.
Lack of insurance can result in a delay in accessing needed care. One-third (32 percent) of uninsured women age
|Contact: Gwendolyn Driscoll|
University of California - Los Angeles