Women’s Preventive Health

July 2014

Women’s Health

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., is world renowned for its dedication to cutting edge medical research and medical care, and its devotion to promoting women’s health.  Hadassah Health & Wellness programs educate women and men about healthy life choices in order to promote wellness, disease prevention and early detection—empowering people with knowledge to make appropriate and informed medical decisions for themselves and their families.

Women face unique health challenges including high rates of chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in American women, claiming over 400,000 lives each year, or nearly one death each minute. However, 82 percent of heart disease is preventable. In addition, women are less likely than men to receive aggressive diagnosis and treatment for cardiovascular diseases.

Women require unique preventive health services through every stage of their lives to ensure they stay healthy. However, the majority of women have lower incomes than men and a greater share of their income is consumed by out-of-pocket health costs. The Commonwealth Fund found that 43 percent of American women had forgone needed health care due to cost in 2010.

Though the U.S. has seen recent improvements in women’s health—such as declining heart disease and cancer death rates—large challenges still remain. Notably, the U.S. failed to meet most of the goals laid out for women’s health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010, a comprehensive agenda produced each decade.

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine released the report: Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, identifying key recommendations to improve affordable preventive care for American women. These recommendations were implemented with the passage of the Affordable Care Act; however, many women are unclear or unaware about the low and no-cost services available to them, such as: well-woman exams; breast cancer genetic counseling and mammography; blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity screening; contraception; prenatal care; and more. 

Hadassah calls on Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide for the planning and implementation of a national public outreach, educational, and media campaign to raise public awareness, including provider awareness, of women's preventive health.

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