Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Health Care Women Need

By Anne R. Davis, MD, MPH

Every day, I hear from another woman who is losing her job and her health insurance. Every day, I worry. As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I know firsthand what can happen when a woman can’t afford reproductive health care, whether she has lost her insurance or her insurance doesn’t cover women’s basic needs. Cervical cancer develops unnoticed. Pregnant women go without critical prenatal care. Sexually transmitted diseases progress unchecked. We see the results in the emergency room.

Congress must give women a better shot at staying well. Health care reform must change the rules: Health insurance must be affordable to all women, and the insurance we buy must cover our reproductive health care.

In my own life, I’ve always had good health insurance. I go to my ob/gyn each year for a well-woman exam, my birth control is covered, and my hospital bills were paid when I had my two children. These are medical fundamentals -- women’s health care 101-- yet I consider myself lucky to have them. Too many women are not as fortunate. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than one in four women or their partners have lost their jobs or health insurance in the past year. The institute also reports that one in four women delayed an ob/gyn visit in the last year to save money.

Click here to read full op-ed.