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Uninsured Women More Than Twice as Likely as Women With Private Insurance to Not Have Had a Pap Smear in the Last 3 Years

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: July 11, 2007

One-fourth of uninsured women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 64 reported not having had a Pap smear within the last 3 years when surveyed in 2005, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This was more than double the 11 percent rate for women with private insurance, and more than the 15 percent rate for women covered by Medicaid or other public insurance.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is sponsored by AHRQ, recommends that women ages 21 to 64 years receive a Pap smear screening every 3 years to detect cervical cancer and abnormal cells that can develop into cancer.

AHRQ data also shows that:

  • Overall, 14 percent of U.S. women ages 18 to 64 years—with or without insurance—did not receive a Pap smear within the last 3 years.
  • Asian women are more than twice as likely (21.5 percent) to have not received a Pap smear in last 3 years than are African-American women (10 percent). White and Hispanic women fall in between (13.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively).
  • Women ages 50 to 64 years are nearly twice as likely to have not received a Pap smear, compared with women ages 30 to 39 years (17 percent versus 9 percent, respectively). For women ages 40 to 49 the rate is about 12 percent.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a highly detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they use them, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.

For more information, access Use of the Pap Test as a Cancer Screening Tool Among Women Age 18-64, U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2005, MEPS Statistical Brief No. 173 (PDF Help).

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of July 2007.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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