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Falling Through the Cracks: Health Insurance Coverage of Low-Income Women

Access to health coverage is a challenge for millions of low-income women. Because they are more likely to be low-wage workers and work in industries that don't offer benefits, access to job-based coverage is often problematic. Avenues for assistance are available to some through Medicaid. However, despite the program s broadened focus on children and pregnant women, restrictive income and categorical requirements still leave millions of women ineligible and often uninsured. Recent changes in public and private health and welfare policies have had a disproportionate impact on low-income women and have resulted in increased numbers of women who lack coverage. This report, created for a Capitol Hill briefing series on women's health issues, reviews the challenges facing low-income women and assesses the impact on health coverage of policy changes associated with the 1996 federal welfare reform law, tracing changes in coverage between 1994 and 1998.