THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The United States has
failed to reach almost every goal set for women's health, a new
Conducted by the National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health
Sciences University (OHSU), the report -- based largely on federal
objectives drawn from the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services' Healthy People 2010 agenda -- is the fifth in a 10-year
look at the status of women's health in this country. In this
latest analysis, a satisfactory rating was only handed out on three
of 26 measures of good health for women.
"If you look at the nation overall, the nation hasn't done that well," Dr. Michelle Berlin, vice chair of the report and associate director of the OHSU Center for Women's Health, said during a news conference on Wednesday.
The three goals that have been met throughout the country are
the number of women receiving mammograms, the number of women
getting screened for colorectal cancer and the number of women
going for annual dental visits, Berlin said.
Since 2000, there has been some progress in reducing deaths from
heart disease, stroke and breast and lung cancer. And, fewer women
are smoking, the report found.
However, more women are obese and more suffer from high blood
pressure and diabetes. Also, fewer women are getting Pap tests for
cervical cancer, and the incidence of Chlamydia and binge drinking
are on the increase, the report showed.
Berlin noted that these data also vary state-to-state, so that
although some goals have been met nationally, individual states may
be falling behind. "The range is pretty concerning," she said.
In fact, no state was given a overall satisfactory grade for
women's health and only two states, Vermont and Massachusetts, got
the next highest grade of "satisfactory minus." Thirty-seven states
received an unsatisfactory grade, and 12 were given an F.
States ranking at the bottom include Alabama, Arkansas,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
In addition to health goals, the report looked at 68 federal
health policies. Medicaid coverage for breast and cervical cancer
treatment and participation in the Food Stamp Nutrition and
Education Program were the only of these goals that were met.
Nine states met a majority of the goals, with California,
Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York meeting the most. The four
states that met the fewest were Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi and
South Dakota, according to the report.
The hope is that provisions of the Affordable Care Act, signed
into law by President Barack Obama in March, will slowly improve
the grade nationally and within each state, the report said.
For example, four of the Medicaid eligibility and enrollment
goals will be met when new Medicaid eligibility rules take effect
in 2014. In addition, coverage of preventive services by private
insurers, such as Pap smears, mammograms and osteoporosis
screenings, have been met by mandating the coverage of such
services with no cost-sharing, which became effective in September,
the report noted.
Other findings in the report include:
- One in five women between the ages of 18 and 64 is uninsured,
the highest rate since the U.S. Census Bureau began reporting such
- No state met the Healthy People 2010 goal of 100 percent of
women having health insurance.
- Almost 50 percent of all pregnancies are unintended, missing
the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies to 30 percent or
- Only seven states require that prenatal care services be
covered in all individual and group health plans.
- Only eight states require private insurers to cover
- Nineteen states restrict private insurers' coverage of abortion
- The District of Columbia has the highest heart disease death
rate at 174.8 deaths per 100,000.
- Hawaii has the lowest heart disease death rate at 60.9 per
- More than 33 percent of women in Mississippi are obese, the
highest rate in the nation, compared with 19 percent in Colorado,
- Nearly 13 percent of women in West Virginia have diabetes, the
highest rate in the nation, compared with 5 percent in Alaska, the
Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, chief of the division of general
internal medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of
Medicine, said he was "not surprised by the report."
"The reductions in the biggest killers of women, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, are probably the biggest victories we have had in health in the last 20 years," he said. "But clearly there are a ways to go."
Carrasquillo noted that it is not surprising to see diabetes
levels rising as obesity and lack of physical activity increase
among women. That also accounts for the increases in blood
pressure, he said.
The increase in binge drinking may just indicate that women are
catching up with men, Carrasquillo noted.
The new report, titled
Making the Grade on Women's Health: A National and
State-by-State Report Card, makes it critical that prevention and wellness programs continued to be funded under health care reform, he said.
For more information on women's health, visit the
Women's Health Information Center.