Report: How the U.S. Health Care System Fails Women Compared to Other Countries | Best States

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American women of reproductive age are poorly served by their country’s health care system compared to women in other high income countries, according to a new report released by The Commonwealth Fund, a foundation focused on improving health care.

“U.S. women are sicker, more stressed, and die younger compared to women in other countries. This is largely because so many of them lack access to needed care,” Munira Z. Gunja, lead author of the report, said in a press release.

According to its website, The Commonwealth Fund’s mission is “to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable.”
The report analyzed health care access and outcomes from women between the ages of 18 and 49 in 11 high-income countries. According to the report, women in the U.S. are more likely to have issues paying their medical bills, have higher rates of chronic illness and are among the least likely to report having a doctor they see regularly, such as a primary care physician.

More than half of American women reported having issues with paying a medical bill and 1 in 5 reported having multiple chronic health conditions. These numbers were far higher than other countries included in the report, like the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

American women also have the highest rates of death from avoidable causes. According to the report, “In 2017, nearly 200 of 100,000 deaths could have been prevented or treated with the right care provided at the right time.”

These deaths include complications from pregnancy. The United States has been widely documented to have the highest rates of maternal death among wealthy countries. Black women are especially vulnerable to deadly pregnancy complications and nearly three times more likely to die due to them than white women.

According to the report, “high rates of avoidable deaths often indicate shortcomings in a country’s public health and care delivery systems.” Having access to primary health care, cancer screenings and immunizations can all lower rates of preventable deaths.

The report argues that policymakers have the ability to improve health care for women of reproductive age. Possible solutions mentioned in the report include building on the Affordable Care Act so that women have access to more health coverage and extending pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage.


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