Thursday, May 14, 2009

Roadblocks for Women's Health Care


Report Highlights Roadblocks for Women in Current Health Care System

St. Paul — Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) applauds the Department of Health and Human Services for a new report, released during National Women’s Health Week, placing a spotlight on the impact that the nation’s health care crisis is having on women, particularly women of childbearing age. The report, titled "Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System Does Not Work for Women" states 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 test, mammograms, and obstetric care."

“The report from Secretary Sebelius underscores the real need to ensure that women have access to quality, affordable reproductive health care as part of any health reform effort,” said PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz.. “The findings of the report reaffirm what we see firsthand at Planned Parenthood health centers every day, when women turn to us for affordable, accessible, high-quality preventive care,” Stoesz said.

In Planned Parenthood clinics across Minnesota, PPMNS has seen a surge in the number of women who have lost their jobs and insurance coverage, are worried about job loss or are returning to us for care during these tough economic times. In the past year, PPMNS has seen a 54% increase in demand for long term contraception. “Women can do the math. They know if they are about to lose their insurance, if their hours are being cut back, that reliable long term contraception makes fiscal sense,” said Stoesz.

As the HHS report states, 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 test, mammograms, and obstetric care. Planned Parenthood health centers across Minnesota are seeing an increase in patients who have lost their jobs, health insurance or who no longer have the money to pay for lifesaving medical care. Some women are deferring annual exams including preventive cancer screenings and buying fewer cycles of contraception.

According to the Women's Research and Education Institute, women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related supplies and services. A recent 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.

These tough economic times are especially difficult for women struggling to pay for basic health care. Family planning centers, like Planned Parenthood, serve as an entry point tens of thousands of Minnesota women. Guttmacher reports that six in 10 clients consider family planning centers their main source of health care. Oftentimes, it is their first interaction with the country’s health care system.

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