When Amy Klobuchar gave birth a quarter century ago, her baby, who couldn’t swallow, was rushed to intensive care. Though her daughter was being tested and fitted with a feeding tube, Klobuchar, now a U.S. senator from Minnesota, was sent home. Klobuchar’s insurance required new mothers to be discharged within 24 hours of birth. Despite her daughter’s precarious health, Klobuchar’s time was up. The future Democratic presidential candidate checked into a nearby motel and wore a rut—still in her hospital gown—between her room and the hospital so she could pump breast milk for her newborn.
Stories of missed diagnoses are everywhere. One woman endures severe pain for a decade before her endometriosis is diagnosed. The source of a woman’s stomach pain is a parasitic worm, but that diagnosis only comes after seven years. Another woman loses her mother to cancer, which her doctors missed until it was too late. After a December C-HIT column about women getting inferior treatment from health care providers, the stories came pouring in.
In ancient Greece, a woman who complained of pain—or one who acted outside the limited social norm available to her—was thought to be suffering from “wandering womb,” which was closely related to hysteria. The uterus was thought to float free within a woman’s body and cause all kinds of medical and emotional issues. The cure, for the most part, was marriage. Of course, that’s silly, but consider how far we haven’t come in the treatment of women’s complaints about pain. Recent data on women’s shoddy treatment by health care providers paints a stunning picture of medical apathy and worse.
Since two Greenwich students—Amy Barratt and Charlotte Hallisey—convinced their local school board to provide menstrual supplies for free to students in middle and high school, they’ve taken their initiative statewide with an online petition and lobbying at the state capitol. They’ve been joined by other activists. The young women’s initiative—dubbed the Period Project—has earned the support of key state senators and representatives, including Sen. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford. “To me, this initiative is a no-brainer,” Slap said after meeting with other legislators and the Greenwich women in September. “This isn’t a women’s issue; it’s an issue of equality, and it’s something that men should be just as interested in.”
Imagine if you had to pay for toilet paper every time you visited a public bathroom at libraries, restaurants, or schools.
In theory, a do-it-yourself rape kit, where a victim of rape or sexual assault collects evidence in the privacy of his or her home, seems like a good idea. Going to the police or a hospital after a rape is immeasurably difficult for some. There’s a stigma, and victims may fear mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement or hospital personnel. But advocates and others say newly introduced home rape kits are roughly as useless as the boxes they come in. There’s no guarantee self-collected evidence is admissible in court, and the kits aren’t nearly as comprehensive as those offered by the state.
In October, President Donald Trump announced new regulations that loosen the requirements that employers provide coverage for contraceptives, which was a pillar of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Trump’s government expanded the reasons an employer could skip out on coverage on moral or religious objections. If in the recent weeks your employer just got religion, you should know why. Trump is messing with a woman’s important right to accessible and affordable birth control. The birth control mandate, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “had a large impact in a short amount of time.” Within two years of the policy taking effect, says Kaiser, just 3 percent of women with employer-sponsored insurance had out-of-pocket expenses for oral contraceptives (the most expensive and the most popular kind).
On the surface, it looks as if Connecticut children fare pretty well. According to the annual Kids Count report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the state ranks fourth in education, third in health, and sixth in overall well-being for children. The foundation pointed to nearly universal health insurance—97 percent—for Connecticut’s children as a major contributor to the state’s high ranking. Of all the states, Connecticut also had the lowest rate of deaths among children ages 1 to 19: 15 deaths per 100,000 children. But that’s not the entire story, not by half.
With health care in the headlines, the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut is hosting a public forum Monday at Quinnipiac University’s North Haven campus that will feature a panel of experts weighing in on the high costs of health care. The forum, “Drowning in Health Care Costs: All Hands on Deck,” features prominent author Steven Brill, whose 36-page cover story in Time magazine in February 2013 delved into the arbitrary and largely hidden system of hospital pricing. Brill will be joined by Patrick Charmel, president and CEO of Griffin Hospital in Derby, and Kevin Lembo, state comptroller. Journalist Susan Campbell, a contributor to the Connecticut Health I-Team, will moderate the discussion. The event is the first in a series of forums planned by the foundation and its parent organization, the Connecticut Health Advancement and Research Trust (CHART), to discuss health care challenges facing the state.
Joyce Hodgson has always worked and at times she’s had excellent health insurance. Five years ago, she became executive director of Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall, where she is the only paid person on staff – and has no health insurance.