Health Time out with Kerri-anne, R U OK Day

We’re liv­ing longer than men so why are we pay­ing more to stay healthy, asks KERRI-ANNE KEN­NER­LEY

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

Brick­bats and bou­quets… First, the bou­quet. Our health sys­tem is one of the best in the world and Aus­tralians care enough to pay bil­lions of dol­lars for those who need health care, cit­i­zens and im­mi­grants alike. It’s not per­fect, but fund­ing is not a bot­tom­less pit of tax­pay­ers’ money. Hav­ing been through the health sys­tem with my hus­band’s ac­ci­dent when he be­came a quad­ri­plegic and my breast can­cer six years ago, I speak with some au­thor­ity.

His & hers

Now the brick­bat! Men now get a re­bate on an ex­pen­sive MRI to avoid an un­com­fort­able biopsy to de­tect prostate can­cer. That re­bate re­cently ap­proved on PBS. On the other hand, women with breast can­cer do not get the same priv­i­lege be­cause it has been re­fused year af­ter year af­ter year by the same peo­ple who just ap­proved it for men.

The Breast Can­cer Network of Aus­tralia have lob­bied for years but it’s been NO, NO, NO! Women who can­not af­ford $650 to $850 have surgery with­out the ben­e­fit of an MRI. I per­son­ally know how alarm­ing and dan­ger­ous this can be. I had an MRI a week be­fore surgery and it dis­cov­ered a sec­ond tu­mour not de­tected by a mam­mo­gram or ul­tra­sound. I paid and thank good­ness I could af­ford to as my doc­tor ex­plained that I could have had a very dif­fer­ent and not so pos­i­tive re­sult. Sur­geons don’t like sur­prises when they have a knife in their hand. So it’s OK for women with breast can­cer to have needles stuck in their boobs and not have the cor­rect prepa­ra­tion for surgery but men don’t have to un­dergo that in­dig­nity as it’s more af­ford­able for them. Go fig­ure! If any de­ci­sion has gen­der bias or is sex­ist it’s this one.

The cost of main­te­nance

If you thought be­ing a woman was ex­pen­sive, you’re right. It’s es­ti­mated that Aussie women spend around $2000 on pads and tam­pons ev­ery year. If you pre­fer a bare look, it’s around $720 a year for wax ap­point­ments or $480 for laser treat­ments. Speak­ing of your lady bits, women are still – even though it’s 2018 – largely re­spon­si­ble for con­tra­cep­tion in het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ships, which could reach around $300 a year for the pill. A bra costs around $55 per shop, and is due to be re­placed around ev­ery eight months. And while men have hair ap­point­ments too, they aren’t fac­ing the same price point. A typ­i­cal salon ses­sion (cut and colour) is around $250 – if you go ev­ery eight weeks, that’s around $1500 a year. And then there are nail ap­point­ments – a ba­sic man­i­cure costs around $45, and will need re­do­ing in a fort­night’s time. If you com­mit to reg­u­lar main­te­nance, that’s $1170 a year.

‘If you thought be­ing a woman was ex­pen­sive, you’re right!’

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