The 50+ million women who are next in line to become the largest users of the U.S. health care system are between the ages of 45-65, a generation brought up on wonder women, bionic women and golden girls. We were the first women to read "Our Bodies, Our Selves" and to march to "take back the night" and the right to make our own decisions regarding health.
While generations before us wore respect for authority like a badge and accepted the hierarchy of doctor-patient relationships without question, we the American "wonder women" are a bit more cynical about our medical system, more likely to "jump" doctors, refuse treatment and demand complimentary therapies. We take our "magical power accessories" to our health care providers and hospital experiences and use them to measure the quality of our health care.
Fortunately, U.S. health care reform seems to play right into Wonder Woman's "lasso of truth" expectations. (Could it have something to do with the Obama administration as well as the majority of the U.S. Congress being exactly the Wonder Woman age demographic?) Health care reform will be driven by millions of health care decision-making women, mothers, daughters, and wives who, as a generation, value its core elements of universal access, prevention, transparency, accountability and life balance. We wonder women applaud the Health Care Reform bill as it embraces us as co-producers of our own health life experience, and allows us to be accountable along side our health care providers for a transparent process of prevention and care as well as strict accountability for individual outcomes.
Wonder Woman will make sacrifices and fight for what she believes in, but needs evidence of success every red-booted step of the way.
So, as we enter into a pivotal year for the preparation for health care reform roll out in the United States, let's take a brief look at the Wonder Woman's Guide to the new health care system:
- Prevention is important to us wonder women. Our bullet-deflecting bracelets need to deflect illness, for ourselves and for those in our care. Programs for prevention need to be convenient and easy to access as we may need to do a quick costume change and dash out to save the day in a moment's notice. Therefore, consider programming in the workplace, online, and in the home to whip us wonder women into better shape to prevent diseases that can bring us down -- in particular obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, pelvic floor disorders, and body pain and fatigue.
- Our magic lasso of truth demands transparency in health care -- from an upfront knowledge of options, outcomes, and costs to an ongoing communication to us of what is happening in our health care and why. We want documentation, access to test results, and honest, direct answers to our questions when we have them.
- Wonder women grew up believing in the miracle of technology to transform lives. From blow dryers to microwaves, from typewriters to personal computers and iPhones, we rely on electronics to simplify our lives. We expect health care in the future to be one-touch digitalized. We require it to be customized to us and accurate. We want our "medical records" to be accessible 24-7.
- Our belts of power define who we are as wonder women. Above the belt, we demand comprehensive chest care: from breast health to lungs to cardiovascular care. Below the belt, we want a new focus on pelvic health and the prevention of diseases of the pelvic floor that can stop from saving the world. We will NOT put up with weak bladders, uterine disorders, sexual dysfunction and pain.
- Wonder women are redefining menopause. From a disease state of hot flashes and physical challenges, we are viewing the process of menopause as an opportunity to protect our vitality, health, femininity, and beauty into our 80s and 90s. We are tired of fighting ageism in medicine and view each decade of our lives as a new opportunity for renewed health. We want our red-booted mobility well into our golden years and view health care as a means to get there.
The question of health care reform is economic, political, systemic and urgent. Certainly there is so much work to be done, perspectives to be shifted, and systems to be changed. But at the heart of this enormous task is the health of our country. We wonder women are the gatekeepers to health. We are an adventure true to our collective need to be healthier and less costly as patients: an adventure of truth, communication, prevention, mobility, technology, and accountability.
As a nation, we need to put our wonder bracelets together to deflect the challenges to a successful health care reform, and ensure access to a system of medical care that promotes our superpower to prevent disease in ourselves and in the general population. The adventure starts now.
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