Women's Health Care Unsatisfactory Nationwide

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Women's health care in the U.S. is unsatisfactory overall, accordingto a report card on the state of women's health released Wednesday bythe National Women's Law Center and the Oregon Health and Science University, CQ HealthBeat reports.

Thereport card, titled "Making the Grade on Women's Health: A National andState-by-State Report Card," measured women's health in all 50 statesand Washington, D.C., by using 27 health benchmarks designated by HHS' Healthy People 2010 campaign. According to the report, the U.S. overall fails to meet 12 of the 27 benchmarks, up from nine in 2004 (Bartolf, CQ HealthBeat,10/17). Only three of the 27 benchmarks -- women receiving regulardental care, women ages 40 and older receiving mammograms and womenages 50 and older receiving colorectal cancer screening -- were met,Michelle Berlin, an associate professor at OHSU, said.

None ofthe states received a "satisfactory" grade in women's health. Threestates -- Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont -- received a grade of"satisfactory minus," a decrease from 2004, when eight states wereconsidered "satisfactory minus." Eleven states and the districtreceived failing grades in women's health status, compared with sixstates in 2004. The 11 states are: Alabama; Arkansas; Indiana;Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi, which ranked last; Oklahoma; SouthCarolina; Tennessee; Texas; and West Virginia. The remaining statesreceived "unsatisfactory" grades, Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, Reuters, 10/17).

Benchmark Disparities

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The report found that several benchmarks -- including the percentage ofwomen receiving prenatal care, infant mortality and the percentage ofuninsured women -- varied significantly by race. American Indians andAlaska Native women were twice as likely as white women to beuninsured, the report found. Among white women, 16.9% were uninsured,compared with 22.7% of black women and 37.8% of Hispanic women,according to the report. The percentage of uninsured women increased by1.7% since 2004, according to the report (CQ HealthBeat,10/17). Minnesota had the lowest percentage of uninsured with 9.1%, andTexas had the highest percentage at 28.1%, the report said (Reuters, 10/17).

Thereport found 85.7% of white women received prenatal care, compared with70.8% of American Indians, 75.9% of blacks and 77.5% of Hispanics.According to the report, the percentage of women nationwide whoreceived prenatal care increased by 5% since 2004 but is stillunsatisfactory. The report found that white women have an infantmortality rate of 5.7 deaths for every 1,000 live births, compared with13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births for blacks and 5.6 per 1,000 livebirths for Hispanics. The overall infant mortality rate has remainedthe same since 2004.

The percentage of obese women increased in all states and the district (CQ HealthBeat,10/17). Hawaii had the lowest percentage of obese women at 16.7%, andMississippi had the highest percentage at 31.5%. The percentage ofwomen ages 40 and older who received mammograms improved in all states (Reuters, 10/17).

Thenumber of states with parental notification policies for minors seekingabortion decreased, as did the number of states that have mandatorywaiting periods for abortions, the report found. The number of statesthat provide public funding for abortion for low-income women hasremained constant since 2001, according to the report.

Comments

"The outlook for women's health is nowhere near approaching thenation's goals for 2010" set by the Healthy People campaign, Berlinsaid, adding, "Failing to meet these goals undermines not only thehealth and well-being of women, but the well-being of our country aswell." Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rightsfor NWLC, said, "It's nothing to cheer when only a handful of statesare meeting at least half of the policy goals" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/17).

Waxman called on states to implement policies to improve women's health (Reuters,10/17). "It is evident that our health system needs mending," Waxmansaid, adding, "Lawmakers must take a comprehensive, long-term approachto meeting women's health needs" (CQ HealthBeat, 10/17).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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