More than half of the states surveyed in the first phase of a nationwide study on health care access found women were far less likely to get primary care than men, and that many of the barriers faced by women were still not being addressed.
The new study, which is published in the journal Health Affairs, found the gender gap in access to health care had widened by a full quarter in the last decade.
The study is based on a national survey of health care providers that is conducted every four years.
The researchers looked at women who were eligible for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal law that provided subsidized coverage to millions of Americans, and found they made up only 5.6% of the population in the United States.
The gap was even greater in states that were the primary providers of health insurance, like California, Arizona and Minnesota.
The difference was even bigger in the remaining states.
In 2016, men accounted for 52.4% of those enrolled in private insurance and women, 51.3%, according to the study.
The report said the gap between women and men remained the same even after adjusting for age, race, and education.
But while the gap in women’s participation was not as great as it was in the previous survey, the study noted the gap had grown over the past decade.
It said that between 2007 and 2016, the number of women who sought care in the emergency room rose by a quarter.
In that same time period, the percentage of women in the hospital increased by six percent.
Women accounted for just over 40% of primary care visits in the ACA-funded programs, but only 37% of hospital visits, the researchers said.
The survey found that while primary care has become more accessible to women, women still remain more likely to be underserved than men.
The study also found that in the non-ACA Medicaid programs, women were more likely than men to not have access to specialists.
Women also faced more barriers than men in accessing health care.
The survey found they were more than three times as likely to face a waiting list for primary care.
The gender gap is largely attributable to the fact that women are not as likely as men to be eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Women are also more likely forgo preventive care, the report said.
More than half the states had a waiting time of at least six weeks for primary health care, and in some cases as long as one month.
And in some states, women also faced barriers in accessing primary care, like an inability to see a doctor within 72 hours.
In 2016, when the ACA was enacted, women accounted for 48% of all enrollees in the individual insurance market, but the report noted that in 2019 they accounted for 49% of enrollment in the private health insurance market.