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ACP-ASIM Report Finds Uninsured Women Face Serious Health Risks

March 14, 2001

Higher mortality rates, later diagnosis plague uninsured

(WASHINGTON, DC:) Uninsured women forego or delay seeking preventive care, are diagnosed at a later stage for breast or cervical cancer, and experience worse outcomes from cardiovascular disease and other illnesses, according to a report released today by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM).

Related information
No Health Insurance? It's Enough to Make You Sick. Uninsured Women at Risk

The report, No Health Insurance? It's Enough to Make You Sick. Uninsured Women at Risk, chronicles the consequences uninsured women face including poorer health, more severe outcomes from treatable diseases and even premature death.

"With proper access to health care, a woman's risk of death from heart disease can be significantly reduced by treating high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and opening clogged arteries," said Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, FACP, president of ACP-ASIM. "Cancer can be fought by early diagnosis through mammograms and Pap smears, and proper treatment of the condition with medicines, surgery and radiation. Tragically, uninsured women do not have access to these lifesaving tests and treatments, or else have them too late."

Among the findings of the report:

  • Uninsured women are 2.3 times more likely than insured women never to have had a mammogram, 2.4 times more likely never to have had a clinical breast exam, and 2.7 times more likely never to have had a Pap test.
  • Uninsured women aged 18 to 64 who were uninsured for more than one year were 5.3 times more likely than insured women to report being unable to see a physician when needed in the past year. Low-income uninsured women aged 18 to 64 were 3.3 times more likely to report unmet needs than privately insured low-income women.
  • Uninsured women aged 18 to 64 are nearly twice as likely as publicly and privately insured women to report only fair or poor health, as opposed to excellent, very good or good health.
  • Uninsured women with breast cancer, compared with privately insured women, have a higher adjusted risk of death from breast cancer. For example, uninsured women aged 35 to 49 have a 57% higher adjusted risk of death. Uninsured women aged 50 to 64 have a 43% higher adjusted risk of death.
  • Uninsured pregnant women are less likely to have initiated prenatal care in the first trimester, are three times more likely to report receiving less than 80% of the recommended number of prenatal visits, and have a 31% higher likelihood of an adverse hospital outcome.

The report is the third paper in a series of ACP-ASIM studies examining the health effects of being uninsured.

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America. For more information please visit www.acponline.org/uninsured.

Contact:

Jack Pope, ACP-ASIM Washington Office, 202-261-4556

Page updated: 11-04-03

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