By Nina Roumell
“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend” Helen Reddy
We’ve made great strides in keeping women happy, healthy, and successful and National Women’s Health Week is a great time for us to celebrate. The week is a time to celebrate and empower women to make health a priority.
Thanks to the consumer protections and coverage options through Obamacare, it’s easier for women to make health a priority. The Medicaid expansion and Colorado marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, make health care more accessible and affordable. Many women will qualify for financial assistance in the form of tax credits to reduce their premiums.
Insurers are held to higher standards through Obamacare. Women are no longer charged more or denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition and plans are more comprehensive. Along with the 10 essential health benefits, including maternity coverage and newborn care, health insurance plans cover preventive services specifically for women- including contraception, screening and counseling for interpersonal violence, breastfeeding support and counseling, and well woman visits – without charging a co-pay, co-insurance, or a deductible. According to a 2009 study by the Commonwealth fund, nearly half of women delayed or did not receive a cancer screening because of its cost. Now, women can get the care they need, without having to worry about a co-pay or deductible.
Having access to preventive care is essential for women to be healthy and happy, and presents opportunities to address health inequities. Access to care is especially important for minority women who are at greater risk for many chronic conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. The White House has been actively fighting to reduce health inequities through a number of preventive and informative programs. A recent initiative, the Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color Challenge, challenged the public to create a tool for mobile devices that provides women with high-quality health information, prevention, screening, and treatment of breast and gynecological cancers. The It’s Only Natural campaign was launched to promote breastfeeding among African American mothers and uses print and online media to provide information and personal stories. In addition to these two programs, there has been an increased effort to support and reach parents of young children through home visits. Providers in the community work to address issues such as intimate partner violence and mental and behavioral health issues. This home visit program is now serving more than 80,000 mothers and children across all 50 states.
Here in Colorado there are about 2.5 million female residents, and overall we generally make the right choices to achieve a healthy lifestyle. 81% of Colorado women have health insurance, and 86% of Colorado women are in good or very good health. But these numbers still leave 14% of women in fair or poor health, and nearly 20% without health coverage. We must work together to understand and address the barriers women are facing in achieving good health. National Women’s Health Week is a great time to spread the word and work to address health inequities while celebrating our progress. Working together, we can move Colorado toward the common sense goal of a healthy state for all Colorado women!
Don’t know how to celebrate? It’s easy!
• Pledge to be a well-woman – being as healthy as you can be, and most importantly, taking steps to improve your physical and mental health.
• Spread the word through social media, email, and community listservs
• Post the National Women’s Health Week Web buttons to your website or blog
• Share your story about how Obamacare and better coverage for women has helped you