Employers in the United States have an important role to play in ensuring that their employees have access to quality healthcare. This includes access to women’s health services, which are essential for the well-being of female employees and their dependents. While traditional medical services are important, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services can also play a crucial role in improving women’s health. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of employers providing access to women’s health services, including CAM services.
Why Women’s Health Services are Important
It seems obvious, but women’s health services are crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of female employees and their dependents. Half the population are women, and this half of society will no longer accept the healthcare approaches that treat the female sex as if they are simply “men with periods.” Women are voting with their feet and finding medical providers and practices that embrace the complexities and unique needs of women’s health. These services include routine screenings, such as mammograms and Pap smears, as well as access to birth control, family planning services, hormonal considerations, and prenatal care. Providing access to these services can help prevent and detect health issues early on, leading to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs over time. As if this isn’t motivation enough for an employer, access to women’s health services can help improve employee productivity and absenteeism/presenteeism metrics, as employees who are healthy are better able to show up and perform their job duties well.
The Role of Employers in Providing Women’s Health Services
Given our current healthcare infrastructure in the US, employers have a significant responsibility to provide their employees with access to quality healthcare, including women’s health services. This can be achieved through offering health insurance plans that cover women’s health services, such as regular screenings, appropriate lab work, and birth control, fertility, and family planning options and services. In addition, employers can offer incentives that encourage healthy behaviors, such as providing gym memberships and healthy food options, which can help prevent health issues from arising in the first place.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Services
While conventional medical services are important, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services can also play a crucial role in improving women’s health. CAM services are a group of diverse healthcare practices and services that are not generally considered part of conventional western medicine. These services include acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, midwives and doulas, nutrition and dietary services, a wide range of mental and behavioral health therapies, naturopathic medicine, functional medicine, and many more.
CAM services are often used for prevention, and can also be particularly useful for women who are experiencing stress, anxiety, chronic pain, or other health issues. CAM services are largely well established as evidenced-based medicine, meaning the Department of Health and Human Services agrees that these healthcare approaches produce real outcomes for patients. For example, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in reducing chronic pain for several MSK conditions and symptoms, while massage therapy has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Chiropractic care can also be helpful for women who are experiencing back pain or other musculoskeletal issues associated with childbirth, breastfeeding, and postpartum concerns.
Employers can support the use of CAM services by offering a health insurance plan that covers these services, but we know that this is a partial solution, as in the US most of these services have only limited coverage options. Health plans can be supplemented with a vetted CAM network as an additional benefit to improve access and coverage. This can help employees access high quality services at lower cost.
Employers clearly have an important role to play in ensuring that all employees have access to quality healthcare, including women’s health services and CAM services. Providing access to these services can help prevent and detect health issues early on, leading to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs over time. Additionally, access to women’s health services, specifically CAM services, can help improve employee productivity and morale. As such, employers should make it a priority to offer health insurance plans that cover women’s health services and CAM services, as well as supplemental benefits that promote healthy behaviors and the use of CAM services.