For-Profit Healthcare System Failing Women


Americans spend $5,267 per capita on healthcare every year – almost 2.5 times that of other industrialized countries. Yet we have fewer doctors per capita, visit the doctor less frequently, and have a lower life expectancy than most industrialized countries.

The average U.S. hospital spends one quarter of its budget on billing and administration – far more than government-run systems in other countries – while 15.7% of the population and 11.2% of children have no health insurance. The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills.

The horrific state of the healthcare system affects women most severely. Women make most healthcare decisions for their families and typically need more healthcare than men, in part because of women’s complex reproductive health needs.

Yet, among women the poverty rate is 12.4% compared to 8.9% for men. Women workers are concentrated in service-sector industries that frequently refuse to provide medical benefits. Twenty-seven percent of women depend on their partners for coverage, twice as many as men. Dependant coverage is not guaranteed; companies can cut it, and it is lost with a job change or retirement.

Children can also lose their health insurance, which puts an extra burden on women, who are usually the primary caregivers. Without health insurance, children are less likely to receive medical attention for serious injuries and illnesses. The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than the rate in Cuba, Canada, and all of Western Europe.

Despite the lack of healthcare for children, birth control has also been under attack. Pharmacists and doctors are refusing to write or fill prescriptions on “moral grounds” that birth control causes abortion. This leads to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and, in consequence, more abortions.

The only serious solution for the crisis in women’s healthcare is to replace the for-profit medical industry system with a publicly-run universal healthcare system to fully cover everyone from pre-birth to death.

The Republicans and Democrats receive massive “donations” from medical industry lobbyists. They have no genuine intention of solving the healthcare crisis, even though polls show most working-class people, men and women, support universal healthcare. We must demand the women’s organizations and the trade unions move beyond rhetorical calls for national healthcare and build a mass grassroots movement to actually fight for it.

More needs, less coverage

  • Six of every ten dollars spent on healthcare is spent on women.
  • 43% of women age 18-64 have a chronic health condition requiring medical treatment, compared to 36% of men.
  • Half of women take a prescription drug on a regular basis, compared to 31% of men.
  • Two-thirds of hospital procedures and 61% of office visits are for women.
  • Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be affected by depression and anxiety disorders.

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