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Report Highlights Roadblocks for Women in Current Health Care System

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today applauded the Department of Health and Human Services for a new report, released during National Women’s Health Week, placing an important spotlight on the impact that the nation’s health care crisis is having on women, particularly women of childbearing age. The report, titled "Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System does not work for Women" states that "women are more vulnerable to high health care costs.... (because) women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care."

“Today’s report from Secretary Sebelius underscores the real need to ensure that women have access to quality, affordable reproductive health care as part of any health reform effort,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards.  “The findings of the report reaffirm what we see firsthand at Planned Parenthood health centers every day, when women turn to us for affordable, accessible, high-quality preventive care.”

Planned Parenthood health centers across the country are seeing an increase in patients who have lost their jobs, health insurance or who no longer have the money to pay for lifesaving medical care. Some women are deferring annual exams including preventive cancer screenings, buying fewer cycles of contraception, and increasing longer-acting contraceptive methods.

These tough economic times are especially difficult for women struggling to pay for basic health care. According to the Women's Research and Education Institute, women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related supplies and services. A recent survey conducted for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that women are delaying their annual exams as a result of the economic downturn. And a Kaiser Family Foundation report shows roughly 16.7 million women are uninsured, and thus likely to postpone care and delay or forgo important preventive care such as cancer screenings.

Family planning centers, like Planned Parenthood, serve as an entry point for millions of women. Guttmacher reports that six in 10 clients consider family planning centers their main source of health care. Oftentimes, it is their first interaction with the country’s health care system.

“The Obama administration is clearly committed to making women’s health care a priority.  As a trusted health care provider for more than 90 years, Planned Parenthood commends the administration and members of Congress who understand that increasing access to quality, affordable health care for women will ultimately result in healthy women and healthy families,” Richards stated.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Tait Sye or Brannon Jordan, 202-973-4882


May 14, 2014