Views and Experiences Related to Women’s Health in Texas
While health care is an issue that touches almost everyone’s lives regardless of gender, there are ways in which women’s relationship with the health care system differs from that of their male counterparts. Previous research has found that compared to men, women use more health services, are more likely to take prescription medication, and are more likely to experience problems paying medical bills or forgoing needed health care because of the cost.1 In addition, women have particular needs for managing their health care during their reproductive years, when many women utilize family planning services, pregnancy-related health care, and maternity care. Finally, research has also found that among parents, women are more likely than men to have primary responsibility for managing the health care needs of children in their households.2
In Texas, three in ten women are low-income, almost one in five are uninsured, and the state has not expanded Medicaid as most others have.3 Over the last several years, there have been a number of changes in the state affecting women’s health care. This includes a decision to eliminate a federally-supported Medicaid family planning program and replace it with a narrower state-funded program. More recently, there has been widespread debate and attention to maternal mortality in the state. In fact, increasing access to health services for women during the year after pregnancy and throughout the interconception period was one of the major recommendations of the State Maternity Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and Department of State Health Services in a recently released report.
Given the relative importance of health care in women’s lives and the changes in Texas affecting women’s health care over the last several years, this report presents analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation/Episcopal Health Foundation Texas Health Policy Survey to examine how women and men in Texas view health policy priorities in the state, including issues of particular importance to women such as maternal mortality and access to contraception. It also explores gender differences in the share of Texans who report problems paying medical bills and skipping or postponing health care because of the cost.