Women’s Health Matters to the U.S. Economy

Access to affordable health care is a topic on everyone’s minds. For women, the stakes are high as the national conversation on the United States healthcare system and its future continues to wind its way through Congress. Not only is this National Women’s Health Week, but the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We already know how important the status of women’s health and well-being are to families and to the economy – we just need to remind our policymakers and toughen our stance with facts.

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Women are the co- or sole breadwinners in half of American families with children. We’ve seen improvements in women’s mortality rates from chronic diseases, but we’ve lost ground on worsening suicide rates and mental health.

Poor health can pose obstacles to financial stability, educational attainment, and employment, while good health allows women to thrive. Women’s status related to health and wellness also varies considerably by race and ethnicity. Black women are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease, and nearly three times as likely to die from breast cancer, as Asian/Pacific Islander women, the group with the lowest rates. White women have the highest lung cancer mortality rate and are three times more likely to die from lung cancer than Hispanic women, the group with the lowest rate.

Paid family and medical leave programs, which can help women take time to recover from pregnancy or serious illness, offer economic, social, and health benefits to workers, families, employers, and society. IWPR’s research has found that a paid leave policy could be offered nationwide at modest cost.

Given the current political climate and debate over the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and proposed revision, AHCA (American Health Care Act), it’s important to remember that approximately 5 million women of childbearing age (19 to 44 years old) gained coverage from 2010 to 2015 and more than 90 percent of American women and girls now have health insurance.

In order for women and our economy to thrive, we need unassailable facts and solutions. To do this, IWPR needs your support.

Facts matter, that is why the Institute for Women’s Policy Research works to continually produce high quality research on women and families around the country and around the world – this is what we do, we give you the facts.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.

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