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New study shows gender differences in health insurance and access among Californians

New research by FSPH's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research finds that among men and women, uninsured rates declined primarily due to expansions of Medi-Cal under the ACA in 2014.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In California, both men and women benefitted from insurance expansions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a new study by the Fielding School's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Using data from the 2012 to 2016 waves of the California Health Interview Survey, the policy brief outlines gender differences in health insurance and health care access in the state.

The study’s authors note that among men and women, uninsured rates declined primarily due to expansions of Medi-Cal under the ACA in 2014, which reduced enrollment barriers for millions of low-income adults who were previously ineligible for the program. Despite coverage gains for both men and women, gender gaps persisted in accessing care. Men have fewer ties to the health care system — 26% of men compared to about 15% of women reported that they did not have a usual source of care. Despite this, women were more likely than men to experience delays in care — about 15% and 10%, respectively.

Researchers also highlight that the socioeconomic status (SES) changed among those who were uninsured, enrolled in Medi-Cal, or received insurance through their employer. In 2016, both men and women enrolled in Medi-Cal had higher SES than in 2012, seeing increases in education, employment, and income.

“Although both women and men gained when the ACA introduced new health insurance options, men remained more likely to be uninsured and women more likely to be enrolled in public programs such as Medi-Cal,” said Susan Babey, center senior research scientist and co-author of the study. “Also, men and women seem to view health and health care use differently, making elimination of the health care ‘gender gap’ especially challenging.”

The Fielding School's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is one of the nation’s leading health policy research centers and the premier source of health policy information for California. The Center improves the public’s health through high-quality, objective, and evidence-based research and data that informs effective policymaking. The center is the home of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). For more information, visit www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu.

Written by: Elaiza Torralba, MPH