Starting on Mother’s Day, National Women’s Health Week runs May 13–19, and is a time to encourage making health a priority in the lives of women.
This is a week to raise awareness among all of us about the simple commitments we can each make to work healthy doses of exercise, nutrition and sleep into the days of our lives. It’s a chance for relatives and friends to offer encouragement as well.
But, it is also a week of political opportunities in a year when politicians couldn’t keep their hands off women’s health issues. How will that be played out as the week progresses? Stay tuned; it could turn interesting.
In the midst of such a year, it is not surprising to learn of the inequity in insurance. Did you know women generally pay higher premiums than men? How did this come to be, you may well ask.
President Obama, in proclaiming Women’s Health Week, vowed to take on the problem. He advocates that the Affordable Care Act should be reversing many of these worst abuses of the health insurance industry.
“Beginning in 2014, many insurers will no longer be allowed to charge women higher premiums simply because of their gender, and it will be illegal for most insurance companies to deny coverage to women because they have a pre-existing condition, including cancer or pregnancy,” Obama said Monday, quoted in the Huffington Press.
He said health plans will be required to cover maternity care. The law already enables women in new insurance plans to see any primary care provider or OB-GYN, or bring their children to any pediatrician in their health plan’s network without a referral, and it prevents most insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
All the better – if such plans can be carried out.
Why have a week proclaimed to notice women’s health issues if some of the gravest injustices aren’t noticed as well? The week-long celebration can do much toward raising awareness on a number of fronts. It brings together communities, health agencies such as our Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, and organizations, business, government, and others across the country to promote women’s health.
“It’s Your Time,” is this year’s theme, a reminder family and friends can impart to the women in their lives. Women say all too often, it is precisely the “time” piece necessary for juggling multiple tasks that causes a sacrifice in the area of good health. One concrete way to make a positive contribution this week to in honor of Women’s Health is to take on one topic at a time. Stress is a good one to focus on first.
Women face special stresses, and have unique needs when it comes to stress relievers and healthy lifestyle choices. Here are some ways women can make lifestyle changes to promote their health.
• Social support can be a great stress reliever. Friends can help us in many ways, from offering a supportive ear to lending a helping hand. Studies have shown that those who have strong social support tend to be healthier, happier and less stressed. For women, especially, this is an important part of life to nurture, as women tend to deal with stress more often by sharing feelings and forming supportive networks.
One stumbling block to friendships for women is that finding themselves ever more and more busy these days. Demands of work, children, or other commitments can take over the time that was previously free to pursue friendships, so it’s important for women to make an effort to develop social support in their lives.
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