As the healthcare battles loom, women have a lot at stake in the outcome. According to the website, womensenews, women are twice as likely to be covered as men as dependents in health insurance programs sponsored by employers. This means of course that if they divorce their husband, or become widowed, or if the husband loses his job, the women are left holding the bag, and that can make life more precarious. To suddenly lose your health coverage is a frightening thing in the United States. There is no safety net.
Women make up two-thirds of the adult Medicaid beneficiaries. This is a big number to say the least. Therefore Medicaid covers four out of ten births in this country, and two-thirds of all family planning services. The bills under consideration in this healthcare debate would change the criteria for Medicaid eligibility. Women comprise more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries. In the group over the age of 85, 70 percent are women.
So what is Congress thinking of doing with the Medicare patients? Well, for one thing, it is considering requiring them to pay more for preventive care such as mammograms, pap smears, and bone density screenings.
Womensenews said, “More than 17 million – 18 percent of non elderly women – are uninsured.” I would say this is quite a big number.
The website also stated that childbirth and related conditions account for almost 25 percent of all hospital stays. There are few women who have the insurance that would cover long term care. This means that the families must foot the bills, thus placing them under extreme financial burdens. As a matter of fact the number one reason people go into bankruptcy, is their financial medical debt.
Women are not only patients, but they are often first responders in health care crises. The vast majority of caretakers are women. So as the battles over healthcare continue it is extremely important to remember that the impact on women is going to be huge. As women’s health goes, so goes the health of children, the health of elderly parents and relatives being cared for, and the general welfare of the community.
The stakes for women are large in this battle. Healthcare reform is urgently needed for everyone of course. It couldn’t come a moment too soon.