by Jermane Bond, Ph.D.
In recent weeks, President Obama announced a new policy to ensure free preventive care services for women, including well women visits, domestic violence screening and contraception, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science. According to the new rule under Section 2713 of the Affordable Care Act, starting August 1, women can obtain contraception without a co-payment.
Where does this leave men? Doesn’t the status of male health in the United States provide cause for concern about the health of the country and the social context of our society? Shouldn’t men also have access to free preventive health services? Despite recent improvements in health and life expectancy during the 20th century, men over past decades have shown poorer health outcomes than women across all racial and ethnic groups as well as socioeconomic status.[i] Poor health not only affects the men who suffer from it, but it can also have a devastating effect on women and families.
Despite the evidence that men are less likely than women to receive preventative health services, have a regular doctor or source of care, and have health insurance[ii] there has been no centralized national effort to coordinate fragmented men’s health services, awareness, prevention or promotion efforts at the local or national level. Yet, teams and male players in professional sports continue to support breast cancer awareness. Where is the support for prostate cancer prevention and awareness? Is it lost?
The premature death and disability of men has a profound impact on wives, children, partners, and families across the nation. Studies have shown that regular medical exams, preventive screenings, regular exercise, and healthy eating habits can save the lives of men. Appropriate use of tests, such as prostate exams, blood pressure, blood sugar, lipid panel, and colorectal screenings, in conjunction with clinical exams and/or self‐testing, results in the early detection of many health problems while increasing survival rates among men. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had national prevention support and a new preventive health policy? Let’s not forget the health of men.
[i] Sandman D, Simantov E, An C. Out of touch: American men and the healthcare system: Commonwealth Fund Men’s and Women’s Health Survey findings. 2000. Available at: http://www.usrf.org/breakingnews/Men_out_of_touch.pdf.
[ii] Armstrong B, Kalmuss D, Franks M et al. Creating Teachable Moments: A Clinic-Based Intervention to Improve Young Men’s Sexual Health. Am J of Men’s Health. 2010; 4(2):135-144.