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Improvements in older women's health

Women are not only living longer today, but their quality of life as they age has improved in the past 30 years. We owe part of this progress to improved treatments and better medications to treat stroke, HIV/AIDS, and certain cancers, including colon and breast cancers.1

In 1994, AOA created the Older Women's Policy and Resource Center to address the needs of older women in particular. Across the country, programs provide education on income security, health resources, and caregiving support.

In 1998, the FDA and OWH created Use Medicines Wisely public awareness campaign for women over 45 with the goal of helping women live longer, healthier lives.

A significant advance in care for older women came in 2003 with the creation of Medicare Part D, or the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The benefit helps cover the costs of prescription drugs and premiums for people with Medicare (primarily people 65 and older). Just four months after the law went into effect in 2006, 90% of Medicare's 43 million beneficiaries had drug coverage.2

The Affordable Care Act requires a free annual wellness visit for everyone on Medicare since 2011. For women under 65 (and not on Medicare), an annual well-woman visit is a required, free preventive service under most insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act also requires additional preventive services with no copay for older women, including bone density scans and mammograms.


  1. U.S. Burden of Disease Collaborators. (2013) The State of US Health, 1990-2010 Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk FactorsJAMA; 310(6): 591-606
  2. Safran, DG, Strollo, MK, et al. (2010). Prescription Coverage, Use and Spending Before and After Part D Implementation: A National Longitudinal Panel StudyJ Gen Intern Med; 25(1): 10-17