Low-Income Health Insurance for Women

Health Insurance for Women

According to WomensHealth.gov, almost one in every five adult women under age 65 is uninsured in America. Because of the high cost of uninsured health care, these women are less likely to seek preventive care or treat a health problem, making them more vulnerable to the development of major health conditions than insured individuals of the same gender. Low-income women who cannot pay for the high cost of comprehensive private health coverage can look to both government and private options for affordable health insurance.

Medicaid is a government-subsidized health insurance program that pays the medical expenses of qualifying low-income individuals and families. The federal government requires that certain categories of the population receive mandatory eligibility in every state that participates in the Medicaid program, but unfortunately, the government does not recognize a woman's gender as a qualifying factor. Instead, Medicaid accepts pregnant women, disabled individuals, the blind and the parents of children enrolled in Medicaid. A woman who falls into one of these categories automatically qualifies for Medicaid if her household income is within the Medicaid income guidelines determined by her state.

Medicaid is not always free, but it is always low-cost. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 allows states to charge monthly Medicaid premiums, as well as implement other cost-sharing requirements on Medicaid recipients. The federal government limits how much a state can charge Medicaid patients, but premiums are always nominal, and charges never exceed 10 to 20 percent of the total expense of an patient's medical claims.

Optional Eligibility Groups
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publishes a list of optional Medicaid eligibility groups in addition to the mandatory categories. The list includes uninsured low-income women with breast or cervical cancer, and states that provide Medicaid to this optional eligibility group pay benefits for the treatment costs for women diagnosed with one or both diseases.

Private Coverage
Low-income women who do not qualify for free or low-cost government health insurance can look to a high-deductible private health insurance plan for the lowest health insurance premiums. With the passage of The Affordable Care Act in 2010, women who enroll in even the most basic health plans after Sept. 23, 2010, will receive free preventive care, such as mammograms for women over age 40 and regular pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. According to CostHelper.com, the average cost of a mammogram for an uninsured woman is $80 to $120, and the average cost of a pap smear is $25 to $75.