In the 60s, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, sparking the beginning of “second wave feminism,” better known as “women’s lib.” In the 70s, Gloria Steinem brought us Ms magazine and a title all our own as she pushed the Equal Rights Amendment. The 1980s saw Geraldine Ferraro join the national ballot as the first woman vice presidential candidate. Women’s History Month was added to the US national calendar in the 1990s, with women’s history courses flooding college campuses. This century has seen women explore space, break sports records, and seek the presidential nomination. As the saying goes, we have come a long way.
As it turns out, women have had power all along. In fact, in the healthcare arena, women have 80% of the power—or more!
Here’s the story.
On November 15th, I had the privilege of attending a conference entitled Women’s Health in an Era of Change. Hosted by Katherine Keefe, Chair of Dilworth Paxson law firm’s Health Care Group, the discussion examined the impact that the healthcare reform bill is having on women. Lynn Yeakel of Drexel University’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership led the panel discussion that included Dr. Owen Montgomery of Drexel University’s College of Medicine, Anne Morrissey of AmeriHealth and Katherine Keefe.
We all learned a lot.
One statistic that jumped out at all of us is that at least 80 % of all healthcare decisions are made by women. Got that? At least 80%. Women make these decisions for themselves and for their families, including extended families of aging parents and siblings who need assistance– the whole deal.
This means that women have the power to move that mountain that will help keep our families safe. Women can demand better care, more attention, safer products. For those with celiac or gluten sensitivity in their families, this means both an opportunity and a responsibility to seek out that diagnosis that has been overlooked, to insist that the doctors get educated about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and to get those family members tested, like it or not.
Another statistic we learned, and this time a disheartening one, is that 50% of the uninsured population is women. The healthcare reform act will move these uninsured women and their families into being covered. This means a huge impact on the primary care physicians who will be treating the newly insured.
Dr. Montgomery suggested that reform will initiate a new era with a team approach to family medicine. Right now, there simply are not enough primary care providers in the U.S. to manage the added millions of patients who will enter the healthcare system. The very practical and viable solution is to expand the role of healthcare professionals by adding more nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants to the primary care team. Doctors will have to practice in a more collaborative way, which means that there will be more hands available to manage the patient’s health. This approach has been embraced by Drexel and by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
So, it is back to the women. All of this means that women as the key decision makers will have an even more active role in managing the “continuum of care” for themselves and their families.
Here is to your good health and to the best use of the power that is in the hands of American women.
Get empowered! Learn more about celiac disease and women’s health.