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Doctor's voice: A failing report card for women’s health
January 7th, 2011
01:52 PM ET

Doctor's voice: A failing report card for women’s health

As report cards go, this one was pretty depressing. The Women’s Health Care Report Card for 2010 from the National Women's Law Center showed a nation failing the majority of its population. Not a single state in our fine union received a “Satisfactory” grade. Not one!

On just about every count, women’s health is doing worse—from access to care to preventive tests, to measures of disease.

Since the previous report card in 2007, women have more obesity, hypertension,  chlamydia and binge-drinking. Fewer are getting Pap tests.

A few states showed some improvements in the death rates from stroke and heart disease, but the country as a whole received a failing grade in these areas.

Why are we doing so poorly? Is the bad economy driving women to drink more? Perhaps scarce dollars are being diverted to household expenses rather than medical care.

Or is this simply the natural outcome of a dysfunctional health care system? We are the only country in the world that allows health to be a free market commodity.  As the heated debate over health care reform last year indicated, we don’t want anything that smacks of “socialism” (even if we are perfectly content to have societally supported, guaranteed, fire protection and police protection).

The most interesting thing to me was to see which states had the highest overall success rates in women’s health. These were Massachusetts and Vermont—the two states that come closest to having universal health coverage. Both states bucked the national trend, braved the “socialism” red herring, and passed laws striving for complete health care coverage for their residents.

The current report card for women’s health care is depressing, but the future looks brighter. The Affordable Health Care Act offers broad improvements in primary care, starting in 2014. It also prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.

Until then, perhaps it pays for women (and men) to move to Vermont or Massachusetts.

Danielle Ofri is an internist at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, and editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her most recent book, “Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients,”


soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Mystery

    This nation needs a clue. We had free market healthcare back in 2007 when things were great for women. My doctor could careless these days. He is so overwhelmed with Obamacare he could careless if I am healthy. Back when I was in charge of my own health insurance and I paid my doctor directly for many services, my doctor seemed much more concerned about my health. Those liberals are not taking good care of us and they have not taken good care of us for a long long time.

    January 10, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Dina

    OMG what crap! I am now fighting to be heard by doctors and it is not Obama Care that is causing it. The reason I say this is because it hasn't happened yet!!!!!! Obama Care is a term used by Republicans to scare people when in fact it is them we should be afraid of. They have fought and fought to stop the so-called "Obama Care" and since that is the case, there is no Obama Care! Why don't you pay attention to what is really going on instead of following the mob mentality without a single basis in fact!

    January 30, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ben Wright

    I wish you guys would warn people about doctors prescribing such horrible drugs as cipro (made by Bayer). I was poisoned two years ago by cipro and steriods by a doctor who did not have a clue. I am now totally crippled (cipro destroys your joint cartilage) and bedridden. Please read http://www.antibiotics.org or go to "Cipro ask a patient". I don't know why you can't sue Bayer (or Greg Babe the President of Bayerus) for attempted murder...

    August 27, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Geralyn Turnes

    womens health should be given more priority since the reproductive parts of the female is more prone to disease as they age. '"..'

    Our favorite web-site
    http://www.prettygoddess.com

    October 9, 2012 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Florene Sukeforth

    Womens health is more critical than mens health because of hormonal fluctuations. ..

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    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/msm-side-effects/

    November 26, 2012 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.