Who makes the health care decisions in your family?

By Serena Villalba

FamilyIt may be the end of March, but for another four days, it’s still Women’s History Month! Enroll America appreciates the role women play in making sure Americans enroll in affordable, high-quality health care. As we continue to celebrate the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (March 23), and with less than seven months before open enrollment begins on October 1, this is a critical time for all Americans—especially women.

To fully understand how vital women will be in the coming months, we partnered with Lake Research Partners to conduct a national survey, which included an exploration of women’s experiences with health coverage, their awareness of the changes that are coming, and the preferences for learning about and shopping for coverage.

Our results (which will be available in full soon) show that 33 percent of women say they are the health care decision-makers in their family.

This is especially important because it means that women will be a major component of our education and outreach campaign.

Another important research finding: 72 percent of women are unaware of the new insurance options, including:

  • 75 percent of Latinas
  • 79 percent of African American women
  • 79 percent of women with a high school degree or less

Women can’t enroll themselves or their family members if they don’t know about the new insurance options. We see this as both a challenge and an opportunity. With such a blank slate, we’ll be able to get the message—and the facts—out. Moms, wives, girlfriends, sisters, grandmothers, and aunts will be critical targets for this campaign. Even if they aren’t uninsured, these women are often the people who others turn to for help, guidance, and resources when it comes time to make important health care decisions. This is especially true of uninsured young men, who will be hard to reach since they don’t believe they need insurance and don’t want to buy it because they don’t think they’ll get sick. But when asked who they would seek out for guidance or information about making an important health care decision,  like buying health insurance, most of these tough guys said they would ask the big M—MOM!

As health care decision-makers, women need to know where, when, and how to sign up for insurance. They need to know what’s covered, what they can expect, and how the new marketplaces will work to help them make the health care decisions that are right for them and their families. That’s where Enroll America comes in. We’ll be arming these ladies with the facts and information they’ll need.

We’ve got a lot of work on our hands, but we feel more confident knowing there will be women making important decisions for their families—AND telling the reluctant young men in their lives to shape up and get health insurance. Thank you to all the women for your efforts and what you’ll do in the coming months to ensure we enroll America!

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