AHRQ's MEPS Analyses and Data Used in New Report on How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America's Older Women

A report using AHRQ's MEPS analyses and data to describe how health insurance reform will help America's older women.

While all Americans shoulder the burden of rising health care costs and increasingly inadequate health insurance, the 17 million older women (ages 55-64) and 21 million senior women (ages 65 and older) in America have unique situations and health care needs that make them particularly susceptible to rising costs—at a time in their lives when access to affordable health care is increasingly important. Health insurance reform will remove these hurdles to ensure that older and senior women, along with all other Americans, get the quality, affordable health care they deserve. Staff from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends (CFACT) conducted analyses on employer-sponsored coverage using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), in response to a request from the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Health Reform.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently released a new report on the importance of health insurance reform for older women. The report, entitled Strengthening the Health Insurance System: How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America's Older and Senior Women, documents the fact that employer-sponsored insurance provides the greatest source of coverage for older Americans, with 64 percent receiving coverage through an employer. However, because employer-sponsored coverage is declining and older Americans are at or close to the age of retirement, they are at risk of losing employer-sponsored insurance and having to seek alternative coverage. This is especially true for older women, who have more limited and less stable sources of coverage than older men. Women are less likely to be employed full-time than men (52 percent compared to 73 percent).This means that women are less likely to be eligible for employer-based health benefits themselves. In fact, less than half of women have the option of obtaining employer-based coverage on their own. Even when they work for an employer that offers coverage, one in six women is not eligible to take it. Women who retire before Medicare coverage begins are also less likely to receive retirement coverage through their employer than men (8 percent versus 14 percent). Without the offer of insurance through their employer, women must seek alternative sources of coverage.

Staff from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends (CFACT) conducted the analyses on employer-sponsored coverage using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The analysis was undertaken in response to a request from the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Health Reform.

Current as of September 2009
Internet Citation: AHRQ's MEPS Analyses and Data Used in New Report on How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America's Older Women. September 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/health-initiatives/meps/seniorwomen.html