By Mimi Johnson, Director of NCL Health Policy
The National Women’s Law Center and Oregon Health and Science University recently issued its latest report card on the health of women, and it wasn’t pretty.
The United States received an overall grade of “unsatisfactory” and failed to meet many of the government’s Healthy People 2010 goals.
Some of the biggest problems facing women in the United States? Women are binge drinking, or downing more than five drinks at a single occasion, far more than before. In addition to partaking in riskier behaviors, women are seeking screening for such things as cervical cancer far less than before. This can be very dangerous, especially as rates sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia are on the rise.
Women today are more obese and have more serious chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension than only a few years ago. The report found that one-quarter of women in this country get no physical activity, and the overwhelming majority of women do not eat five fruits and vegetables a day.
Is there hope? The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance policies from discriminating based on gender or pre-existing conditions, and helps extend Medicaid eligibility to millions of Americans. The Act also allots substantial funding for prevention. One of the major advancements is the elimination of co-pays for preventive services. It might be possible to inch closer to nation’s goal of 90 percent screening rates for pap smears, increase the effective use of mammography, and continue to help women to smoke and drink less with fewer financial and systemic barriers in our way.
So let’s go far a walk, put down the bottle, get to the doctor, and work together to make sure we fare better on the next report card!