New White House Report Looks at Women's Health Care Issues

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • I don’t know about you, but as I’ve gotten older, I keep thinking about health. For instance, how we often take it for granted until it’s gone. And what we should do to make the aging process go more smoothly.


    Unfortunately, many American women are facing real challenges in middle age – when most go through perimenopause and into menopause – and beyond, according to a new White House report, Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.  “The health of U.S. women has been improving according to some metrics, but progress across measures is not uniform and some declines can be seen,” the report’s authors wrote. “Moreover, women are more likely than men to face certain health problems, such as mobility restrictions and chronic medical conditions.”

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    This report is the first comprehensive federal study on women since 1963 and statistically describes how women in the United States are faring and how their lives have changed in five areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence. 


    One of the findings noted that many American women do not get recommended preventive care. While 75 percent of women who are 18 and older get a Pap smear test in the last three years, 73 percent have had their blood cholesterol checked in the last five years, and 70 percent of women age 50 and older had a mammogram in the past two years, only 53 percent of women age 50 and older have received a signoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Slightly more than half of American women age 50 and older have obtained an influenza immunization in the past year, while slightly more than 60 percent of women age 65 and older have received a pneumococcal immunization.


    Many women lack health insurance as well as a health care source. The report found that in 2009, 18 percent of women who were age 18-64 did not have this type of insurance. The share of women age 18-64 who were covered by private health insurance fell by 11 percentage points to 67 percent over the past 25 years; during this same time period, the proportion of women this age who were covered by Medicaid increased 5 percentage points to 11 percent. Furthermore, about 25 percent of unmarried women under age 65 lacked health insurance in 2009 whereas 14 percent of married women this same age didn’t have health insurance. The lack of a usual source of health care was highly associated with the lack of insurance. “Almost half of all women who were uninsured for more than 12 months had no usual source of care, compared to 7 percent of women who had been continuously insured for the prior 12 months,” the report’s authors stated.


    The study covers medical and physical issues as well, which I’ll cover in a blog later this week. But my question to readers at this point is whether you’re taking the preventative measures and finding the resources that will help you age gracefully? I certainly hope so!

Published On: March 07, 2011