The State of Women’s Health in the U.S.
Have you ever looked hard in the mirror and started to wonder to yourself, “How did I let myself go this much?” Have you ever been uncomfortably called out about a recent failure but are so overwhelmed at the prospect of correcting that mistake that you weren’t even aware of making? It seems a habitual pattern with United States policies that range from the national obesity crisis to nutrition. And women’s health is just as unflattering. The United States ranks 11th out of the top ten list of women’s health in the world after the United States tried to compare other countries to wealthy nations. Oof.
So, how did we get there, what can we do to fix it, and what sort of pattern can we recognize in order to improve our women’s health situation?
Healthcare Costs and Nationwide Chronic Conditions
In a not so surprising twist of an answer, the rise in healthcare costs, as well as what women have to pay for out of pocket are detrimental to women all over the US. According to the same data, both women in the US and Switzerland needed to pay on average $2000 out of pocket costs for any sort of care.
In the United States, “More than one-third of women report skipping needed medical care because of costs, a far higher rate than the other countries included in the study.”
This creates an ugly cycle. Because health care costs too much money, women largely avoid going to the doctor. And when they avoid getting care, the increased risk of chronic conditions, cancers, and other healthcare issues increases. The problem gets bigger, so it costs more money to take care of. And so on, and so forth.
High Maternal Mortality and Poor Health Care for Women
Those chronic conditions do not only cause poor health for women, as a constant source of stress, but it also affects their children. Lack of prenatal care, because again, it has to come out of pocket, combined with chronic conditions that are common in US women, and you get a flurry of low birth rates, birth defects, lack of prenatal care nationwide, and a higher infant/maternal mortality rate.
But that hardly holds a candle to how the healthcare systems treat women as a whole. Thanks to a variety of stereotypes about women and emotion, most
According to the statistics, 24% of US women rate their care as excellent or very good. That is almost half as much as Norway’s and Sweden’s rating. The specific factors vary but all point to an unspoken bias in healthcare. Women’s chronic conditions are often downplayed as “stress” or “all in their head”. It is the reason why we under-report our own heart attacks. We think that is just “an overreaction”. And its that kind of downplaying that increases the chance of mortality.
However, bias does not always mean that the healthcare system is actively sabotaging the women under its care. It’s more of a common human error.
Human beings are truly amazing. When we put our minds to it, we can recognize patterns, figure out cause and effect, and ultimately learn from our mistakes. We are all very much limited with our own initial worldview, and it makes sense that we do so. After all, we first learn ourselves and our place in the world before we learn from the perspective of others. So, when it comes to a system that is supposed to benefit a variety of people, it can be problematic. What exactly do I mean? Well, nutrition, healthcare, etc for all intents and purposes is not a one size fits all sort of thing.
What Can We Do About It?
There are a number of things that we could start that can get the ball rolling on how we look at women’s health. For starters, look at what everyone is complaining about. Why is it so costly? Is it justified, Is there anything available for prenatal or overall preventative care for chronic conditions for women? What can we do to help more women get regular access to decent healthcare?
Another thing is for doctors, and healthcare providers to actually LISTEN to the health concerns of women. It should be a common conscious practice to eliminate bias as a healthcare provider for a better success and satisfaction rating. You want to keep people from feeling afraid to speak up.