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In families, women call the shots with health care

Women’s health has become an increasingly important concern for employers, insurers, federal and state governments and our health care network at Coordinated Health.

Because of the expansion of health care coverage from employers and governments, women today are able to take better care of their needs as patients.

In Pennsylvania, 67 percent of women 18 to 64 now receive health care coverage through their own or their spouse’s employers or Medicare, 12 percent receive Medicaid and 7 percent have their own individual plans, according to the Urban Institute. However, until 2010, that still left about a half-million Keystone State women those ages without health care coverage at all.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has extended health insurance to more than 1 million young adult women nationwide in the past three years. An estimated 13 million more uninsured women will receive coverage under the law by 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to being able to take better care of their own medical needs as patients, women have more often become the caregiver for their children, the entire family and their elderly or disabled parents and other relatives.

In their growing role as caregivers, women now make about 80 percent of family health care choices and are more likely to be medical care providers when a family member becomes ill, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

For eight out of 10 families, women also are the decision-makers in choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to medical appointments and ensuring they get the recommended care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

As patients, women are more frequently the consumer of health services than men, with 90 percent of women having at least one health care expenditure annually compared to 78 percent of men. Almost 11 percent of women have hospital inpatient medical services each year, including child-birth delivery, compared to 6 percent of men who have hospital inpatient services, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research.

It is a little-known fact that as women become older, they require more medical attention than aging men. More women than men between 45 and 64 have at least two chronic health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

More women than men die of cardiovascular death each year, which is the No. 1 fatal disease for women, responsible for one-quarter of women’s deaths, according to the American Health Association.

One-quarter of women have a chronic condition that requires ongoing medical attention, compared to three in 10 men. More than six in 10 women in their senior years are dealing with arthritis and hypertension, and about half have high cholesterol, according to Kaiser research.

Women’s increasing influence over family health matters and their closer attention to their own medical needs is why women’s health is one of Coordinated Health’s four focused specialty areas.

Dr. Emil J. DiIorio is a recognized orthopedic surgeon and the founder, president and CEO of Coordinated Health, which has a strong presence in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. Coordinated Health is expanding its breast care, gynecology, primary care and cardiovascular health programs for women.

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