For the month of October, the staff of Women Advance NC will be highlighting the issue of health – taking care of ourselves, our children and our families. An estimated 66-percent of caregivers are female. I don’t need a statistic to tell you that the last person many of us think to care for is ourselves. Beyond that is the question of what does healthy look like? Is it a size 2, “perfect 10”? Or is it a woman full of life and fulfilled?
You can expect pieces from our growing list of writers this month on these topics and more. We also welcome your suggestions. What do you want to know more about? What health policies are impacting you and your families? The election is just a month away and the candidates we elect have the potential to impact a woman’s right to the health care that’s best for her, whether the state will expand Medicaid coverage to bridge the coverage gap, and how our children access proper care.
While health is often viewed as a personal issue, our neighbor’s health, and health of the children in our daughter’s and son’s classrooms – impact us all. Numerous bodies of research demonstrate that a population’s health is an indicator of economic productivity. To put it plainly, when we feel bad, we don’t feel like working. Many of us can’t work with an illness.
Beyond this consideration, late last week North Carolina’s health care was ranked 40th in the country by the survey giant Wallet Hub. A look further shows that the state actually ranked 44th when it comes to access to health care.
Part of access to health care is cost and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates the annual cost of health care to be nine-thousand dollars per person in the United States. If we’re actually spending it, that’s money that could be allocated to education and economic investment. If we don’t have it, that means some of our health care needs, or those of our children, are going unmet.
The statistics are even more dire for our black, Latino and other minority brothers and sisters. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that they experience 30- to 40-percent poorer health outcomes than white Americans.
All of this adds up to figures that place us at the bottom of the heap when it comes to life expectancies of people in industrialized nations. The U.S. ranks dead last with an expectancy of 79 years of age. Switzerland is at the top with people living on average to 83. Aside from a few extra years on this planet, consider what that ranking means to productivity and long-term health care costs.
So we welcome October and this month that will give us all an opportunity to become more informed and engaged in health policies.