Women’s Access To Health Care: 2012 State Analysis

Each year the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Women’s Law Center release a Women’s Access To Care: State By State Analysis. This report highlights many of the key issues pertaining to women’s health and health policy. Given the vast amount of decision-making and funding that take place at the state level, this analysis is a yearly must read.

Here are the highlights for 2012:

General Notes of Importance

  • A total of 13 states have Offices of Women’s Health that develop agendas on women’s health issues and provide policy guidance to the governor’s office, state legislature and the state department of health.
  • Few states require special training and service protocols for health care providers and law enforcement personnel that serve victims of violence. Most states do, however, have laws prohibiting discrimination against victims of violence seeking health insurance.
  • Women now account for 30% of new HIV infections in the United States. To prevent vertical transmission of HIV, the majority of states have implemented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1995 guidelines for HIV testing of pregnant women, which call for voluntary testing for all pregnant women.

Private Insurance Coverage

  • Most states mandate that insurers cover some screening tests important to women’s health. 49 states and DC have mammography mandates, while only 25 states and DC have cervical cancer screening mandates.
  • Some states have taken major steps in increasing access to reproductive health care for women by mandating insurance coverage for key services. Half the states have adopted contraceptive coverage mandates, which require insurers to cover contraceptives to the same extent as other prescription medications, although 14 states include an exemption for employers and/or insurers with moral or religious objections to contraception.
  • About two-thirds of states have addressed mental health parity in an attempt to increase access to mental health services. Access to mental health care is particularly important for women, who are twice as likely as men to suffer from certain mental health conditions.


  • Most states have made significant expansions in Medicaid eligibility. Women comprise the majority of adult Medicaid recipients and nearly one in five women ages 18 to 64 living below 200% of the federal poverty level are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • States have taken steps to expand Medicaid coverage and income protections for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Medicaid is an important source of coverage for low-income seniors (who disproportionately tend to be women) and people with disabilities.