July 15, 2009 § 5 Comments
Health care reform is a lead story on every news outlet in the United States, and interestingly enough, the “experts” all seem to be legislators, insurance representatives, physicians and professional organizations. Strange, isn’t it, that the primary health care decision makers, women, are not being heard.
Women as Health Care Decision Maker
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), 90% of U.S. adult women are responsible for health care decisions for themselves and/or members of their family. The family includes spouse/significant other, children, and/or adult relatives.
- 70% of women are responsible for their own health care decisions
- 27% are primarily responsible for their children’s health care decisions
- 20% are primarily responsible for their spouse/significant other
- 6% are in charge of an adult relative’s health care decisions
- Older women aged 45+ are twice as likely as those 18-44 to be primarily responsible for their spouse/significant other’s healthcare decisions.
In a May 2008 poll released by the AAFP, some 60% said they face challenges in obtaining health care for themselves and/or family members, such as,
- A system of confusing communications
- Duplicative paperwork and tests
- Contradictory recommendations from different doctors
What do women want from the health care system?
These very same challenges that women report are some of the escalating cost-drivers in the health care system. Women have very distinct views on what they would like from the health care system.
- 68% want same-day appointments with the primary care physician for unexpected illnesses
- 63% what a relationship with a doctor who knows their medical history
- 63% want one doctor who can manage chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease
- 60% think that technology that allows doctors to send medical records and patient histories to other doctors as extremely important
- 57% said one doctor who can provide high quality health care to all family members regardless of age or gender was extremely important
- 50% said doctors should be able to send prescriptions to pharmacists electronically
Obstacles to Health Care
Women report many challenges to getting the health care they need. High on the list are financial reasons which include no insurance to high co-pays. Preventive health suffers from some of the same issues. However, some of the other barriers to health care have to do with individual time constraints, the “hassle factor”, lack of convenience and time it takes to get an appointment.
Consumer is now the Brand Manager
During years of interviewing consumers on their health care attitudes, there has been a common strain of thought. Consumers are now demanding the same type of service, information and respect that they find in other retail and service industries. They are in fact the brand manager for those brands they use and respect. Health care and health care reformers should take heed.