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New Report Emphasizes Critical Role of Including Early and Preventative Care for Women in Health Care Reform
Date:6/15/2009

COMPREHENSIVE CARE FOR WOMEN OVER THEIR LIFESPAN COULD EASE SKYROCKETING COST OF CHRONIC ILLNESSES

WASHINGTON, June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Delivering care for women with chronic illness costs the United States billions of dollars and affects countless lives, according to a new study. It makes the case that providing women with preventive and primary care services over their lifespan can ultimately yield large cost savings while greatly improving women's health.

The report, from the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, entitled Women's Health and Healthcare Reform: The Economic Burden of Disease In Women, highlights the skyrocketing direct and indirect costs of major chronic conditions facing women today. It recommends that health care reform include measures to guarantee women access to preventive and primary care services over their entire lifespan, especially in the reproductive years.

Most health care costs for American women involve treatment of chronic illness. Cardiovascular disease, for example, affects 43 million U.S. women from childhood through old age and imposes direct costs estimated at $162 billion dollars in 2009. Depression, osteoporosis and diabetes also bear large annual cost burdens of $20 billion, $14 billion and $58 billion respectively, the report says. Breast cancer medical costs are estimated to be over $9 billion this year.

"When I came to Congress, women's health care wasn't a national priority. I fought to change this. As more women Senators joined me over the years, we've been able to make a real difference," Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) said. "But, as this new report shows, there's still more to be done. Better access to early prevention, detection and treatment of chronic diseases will improve women's overall health and save millions of taxpayer dollars. As Congress moves forward with health care reform, know that you can count on me to make sure no women is left behind when it comes to her health - this means equal, affordable and quality care."

"High quality health care, including prevention, during the reproductive years can improve women's health across the lifespan and reduce the burden of disease later in life," said study lead author Susan F. Wood, Research Professor at the GW School of Public Health. "With the cost of chronic illness in women so high, we can no longer afford a patchwork of care that is loosely pieced together."

"As we work towards health reform, this comprehensive look at the importance of prevention and continuity of care will be a valuable tool in addressing the unique health needs of women," said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), senior member of the Senate HELP Committee.

"This study reinforces the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). "Preventive care must be part of health reform because it is our first line of defense in the fight against heart disease, breast cancer and other chronic illnesses threatening women's health. If we invested more in preventative services on the front-end, we will not only be saving dollars, but more importantly, we will also be saving the lives of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters everywhere."

Background:

The report serves as a companion piece to an earlier study by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, entitled Women's Health and Healthcare Reform: The Key Role of Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care. That report has been endorsed by 38 of the 50 deans of the nation's schools of public health.

A copy of both reports, along with additional background, can be found at www.wellwoman09.org


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SOURCE Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
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