Women's Health in the USA: We're (Not) Number One!
by Cynthia Pearson, Executive Director
Can you tell I've been watching the Olympics? Like many other people, even though I'm not at all athletic I love watching the Olympics every four years. I get excited when I see an athlete do something incredible, and I really enjoy seeing so many women compete at the highest level. The jingoistic chants that spring up every once in a while aren't so enjoyable, but this year they've given food for thought.
"We're number one!" How often do Americans think this about ourselves? When sports fans make the assertion that Americans are the best in the world, it's relatively harmless, although slightly rude. But the assumption can be very misleading and even dangerous when applied to other aspects of our American life. For example, how often do you hear someone say that the U.S. has the best health care in the world? I hear and read this a lot, and I know the claim is wrong in important ways.
Too many people are left out of the U.S. health care system. More than 40 million people went without health insurance last year. The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn't guarantee health care as a basic human right. We may be number one in women's soccer, but we're certainly not number one in health care.
In this issue we're publishing two important articles about this topic. In our lead article starting on page I, Lourdes Rivera fleshes out that simple statistic of 4O-plus million people without health insurance. Lourdes explains who's most likely to go without needed health care in the hopes that readers will be motivated to help change the current system. On page 3, we explore a new campaign by the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund (NBCCF) to collect real-life stories of women with breast cancer, most of whose experiences definitely don't represent "the best health care in the world." NBCCF wants to share these stories with members of Congress to spur federal action that guarantees access to health care. We hope NBCCF's campaign will gather broad support and be just one of many successful efforts to let policymakers know that this change is essential.
Maybe it's time for a new chant. How does "Health care for all!" sound?