Women's Health Care Must Be a Priority in Reform Package
Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Cynthia Pappas
As the debate over health care reform continues, we must make sure that women's health care is kept front and center as a priority. It is paramount that after health care reform, women are not made worse off than they are today.
Access to health care, including preventive care, is a critical need for everyone, especially during these difficult economic times. However, 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.
Each year, Planned Parenthood health centers across the country perform nearly 1 million Pap tests, identifying 93,000 women at risk of developing cervical cancer. And we provide more than 850,000 breast exams a year.
These tests are critical to women's health and to saving lives. They must be protected as a national health priority, especially in tough times.
Why should we pay attention to the impact of health care reform on women? Because women currently pay far more for individual health care than men - on average, a staggering 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs.
The discrepancy is partly because women's reproductive health requires more routine visits with health care providers for things such as yearly pap tests, mammograms, obstetric care and contraception.
For many women, reproductive health care represents their primary medical need. Community providers such as Planned Parenthood offer an affordable, accessible place where women can speak with medical professionals about their health, get their routine tests and obtain prescription birth control. …