Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi sits on the Senate Finance Committee, and tomorrow, he and his colleagues may be hearing from a lot of women. First Lady Michelle Obama has challenged women to speak up about health care reform, pointing out that women are the primary decision-makers about health care, and they carry the heavier economic burden, too.
Researcher and department director Susan Wood at George Washington University has studied womens health care issues and lays out the facts: about 20% of women under the age of 65 have no insurance. In some states, they're denied coverage if they've experienced domestic violence, and when women do have coverage, they're charged higher premiums and often see a long list of pre-existing conditions that are excluded, with pregnancy sometimes on that list. Wood comments.
Wood likes the idea of "well woman" visits for primary and reproductive care for all women through all stages of life. She says right now, that kind of care is rarely available, and rarely covered by private insurance.
Wood says a lack of stable, quality and affordable health care during the reproductive years can be connected to chronic diseases later in life, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Her research shows those two conditions in women, together, cost more than $200 billion a year in direct medical expenses.