BETHESDA, Md., May 15 (UPI) -- A top U.S. health official, while marking National Women's Health Week, noted women can't care for their families if they don't care for themselves first.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the way to honor mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and other women care-givers is to encourage them to make their health a priority and to take steps to live healthier, happier lives.
"Women are frequently the healthcare decision-makers in their families. We take time off from work to drive a parent to the doctor. We hold our children's hands while they get their vaccinations," Sebelius said in a statement. "We make the appointments for our spouses' checkups, and then make sure they actually go. We stretch and re-work our family budgets to pay the doctor's bills. And too often, we put our own health last."
The truth is unless women take care of themselves first, they cannot really take care for their families, Sebelius said.
"That means we have to eat right, exercise, and get the care we need to stay healthy. Unfortunately, preventive care has not always been easily accessible or affordable for everyone, including young women," Sebelius said.
The Affordable Care Act is making it preventive services such as mammograms, Pap smears, birth control and yearly well-woman visits are now available without co-payments or deductibles, Sebelius said.
"Starting next year, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to refuse us coverage just because we're battling breast cancer or have another pre-existing condition -- and they won't be allowed to charge us more just because we are women," Sebelius said.