Men Lag Behind Women in Health Insurance Coverage
By Jennifer Cheeseman Day, Brett O’Hara, Danielle Taylor
A higher proportion of men than women do not have health insurance. In 2014, the uninsured rate was 12.9 for men and 10.5 for women, a difference of 2.4 percentage points. Though the gap has shrunk since 2009, what remains represents a considerable difference in the realm of health insurance coverage (Figure 1).
Eligibility for some types of health insurance coverage depends on a person’s age. Using detailed statistics from the 2014 American Community Survey, we can examine differences in health insurance coverage for men and women across single years of age (Figure 2).
For both sexes, the uninsured rate peaks at age 26, an age when children lose their health insurance coverage provided by their parents’ policies. The gap between men’s and women’s coverage rates appears to be entirely among people of working age, with the largest gaps among those in their late 20s and early 30s.
Most people of working age have private health insurance coverage, which they receive through their employer or a family member’s employer (Figure 3). However, we see no discernible differences in rates of private health insurance coverage for men and women across ages.
It is in government-provided health insurance coverage where we see differences between men and women. At the younger ages, women have higher coverage rates than men. This pattern reverses with age, as men in their later 50s and early 60s appear to have higher rates than women do (Figure 3).
Government-provided health insurance coverage is made up of several distinct programs. Women and men share similar coverage rates from Medicare (which benefits mostly people with disabilities and people 65 and older). However, far more women than men receive coverage under Medicaid (which mostly benefits people with lower incomes), with the largest gaps in coverage appearing among men and women in their 20s and 30s.
Among working-age people in their 50s and early 60s, a higher proportion of men than women receive health care benefits as veterans through VA Care. About two-thirds of people with VA Care also have private insurance (Figure 4).
The difference between men’s and women’s uninsurance rates is mainly driven by government health insurance coverage, specifically Medicaid provided to young adults. For more information about health insurance coverage, see the report, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2014