Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health Care Reform Should Include Women


By Paula Gianino

Health care reform bills are moving quickly in Washington D.C. As a trusted health care provider serving over 50,000 women a year with thousands of pap smears, breast exams, and tests for sexually transmitted disease, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri wants to make sure women’s health is a priority in health care reform.

Reform is sorely needed with more than 750,000 Missourians (one out of every six) uninsured according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, former Governor Blunt’s Medicaid cuts reduced benefits for 300,000 Missourians, and eliminated Medicaid coverage for 100,000 Missourians according to the Missouri Citizen Education Fund. Furthermore, in 2003, the Missouri House eliminated a successful and cost-saving program that gave 30,000 Missouri women access to family planning services.

In our current health care system, women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket expenses than men. A recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services titled “Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System Does Not Work for Women,” show that “women are more vulnerable to high health care costs… [because] women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly Pap tests, mammograms, and obstetric care.” And a 2009 survey conducted for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that women are delaying their annual exams as a result of the economic downturn.


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