Majority of Women Delay Seeking Medical Care, Impacting Health and Employers

by Ella

A concerning trend has emerged, with approximately 8 in 10 women admitting to postponing medical care until their symptoms worsen or significantly disrupt their daily lives. This revelation, combined with the fact that 43% of these women have missed work due to health issues, poses challenges not only to women’s health but also to their employers.


Primary care provider Parsley Health conducted a comprehensive survey, polling 1,200 full-time employed, insured women aged 18 to 60, in an effort to unearth their top health concerns and care-related difficulties. The most significant takeaway from this survey is the apparent neglect of women’s healthcare needs within a system that often overlooks the multifaceted and intricate health requirements that women encounter throughout their lifetimes, according to Dr. Robin Berzin, founder and CEO of Parsley Health.


A recent analysis by Deloitte has revealed that employed women face up to $15.4 billion in additional annual out-of-pocket costs compared to men. These higher costs, spanning all age groups from 19 to 64, were observed even when excluding expenses related to maternal care needs. The analysis, utilizing Komodo Health data, found that women, on average, incur 10% higher total health expenditures than men.


Dr. Berzin emphasized the human aspect behind these statistics, stating, “Research often presents staggering figures in terms of billions of dollars and significant percentages of the population, but it sometimes obscures the real-life experiences of individuals concerning their health. This survey was initiated to address this gap.”


Almost half of the surveyed women disclosed that their health issues had affected their work productivity within the past 60 days. The primary factors contributing to missed workdays include fatigue or lack of sleep, headaches/migraines, infections, mental health concerns, physical pain, and stomach/digestive issues.

The survey underscores that a considerable portion of women delay seeking medical care, resulting in delayed or missed diagnoses. When asked why they postpone medical care, 44% cited a lack of time to make appointments or visit doctors, 34% mentioned being discouraged by previous unsatisfactory experiences with healthcare providers, and 33% pointed to the financial burden associated with healthcare visits and copays.

Additionally, 24% of women delay care due to concerns about being prescribed more medication, which they prefer to avoid.

Dr. Berzin commented on these findings, saying, “These are factors that many of us can relate to, but we often perceive them as surmountable challenges. However, this report underscores that these challenges are not insurmountable and that we face a genuine problem. The issue of time constraints for doctor visits is particularly significant. In a world where telehealth has become more commonplace, we must not forget that not everyone has access to this option. Time poverty is a substantial concern for women, affecting their ability to seek medical care. Additionally, negative experiences with healthcare providers, where patients feel dismissed or unheard, are significant factors.”

With women constituting approximately 60% of the workforce, employers are urged to take action to address these gaps in healthcare access, with the potential to reduce costs and absenteeism while addressing the genuine issues faced by women.

Parsley Health primarily serves women, with approximately three-quarters of its patients being female. Dr. Berzin believes that her company is filling the healthcare void for many women who have felt underserved by the traditional healthcare system.

Women frequently grapple with common chronic conditions, and Parsley Health focuses on addressing these issues by emphasizing root cause resolution medicine rather than just symptom management.

Launched in 2016 by Dr. Berzin, who received training at Columbia University and Mount Sinai, Parsley Health offers nationwide virtual-first medical services via telehealth appointments. It also operates physical clinics in New York and Los Angeles, characterized by an ambiance more akin to a boutique hotel or a day spa than a traditional medical facility.

Parsley Health aims to be a medical home base for patients with complex health needs, offering comprehensive care that encompasses autoimmune, gastrointestinal, cardiometabolic, hormonal, mental, and behavioral health. The provider also supports reproductive health concerns, including preconception, fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.

The survey conducted by Parsley Health highlights that nearly two-thirds of women face difficulties in obtaining a clear diagnosis, with 25% still awaiting a diagnosis or having given up altogether.

Dr. Berzin observed that employers often overlook this “rising risk” population, explaining, “The survey results indicate that many individuals are unwell but do not understand the reasons behind their illness. When we consider employer-sponsored healthcare, the focus tends to be on individuals who have already incurred claims or have known conditions. There isn’t always a mechanism in place to address those individuals who are missing work, experiencing discomfort, exhibiting multiple symptoms, or perhaps suffering from more than one condition without a clear diagnosis. The message is clear: many individuals, particularly women, are unwell, missing work, and delaying care.”

When asked about their healthcare benefits preferences, women in the survey most commonly sought comprehensive support from a single doctor who could address their unique healthcare needs without requiring referrals to multiple specialists. They also expressed a desire for more tailored solutions for their specific health concerns and improved care management services for coordinated healthcare.

Furthermore, the surveyed women expressed a preference for healthcare services that accommodate their schedules and time constraints, provide clear diagnoses without the need for multiple specialist referrals, and prioritize addressing the root causes of their health conditions.

Parsley Health unveiled this survey as the company intensifies its focus on expanding its enterprise business. In May, the company introduced a women’s health program available to self-insured employers and plan sponsors, offering coordinated medical care for various chronic conditions and health needs.

The survey results indicate that 71% of women would consider leaving their current job for better healthcare benefits.

Employers are urged to offer more comprehensive support for a wide range of women’s health issues, recognizing that women’s health encompasses more than just reproductive health. Women have diverse needs and different solutions that may better address their specific concerns. Accessible, telehealth-based solutions can help bridge gaps in healthcare access, acknowledging the time constraints that many women face.

Parsley Health, through its high-touch, technology-enabled virtual care approach and commitment to root cause resolution medicine, claims to have improved or resolved symptoms for over 85% of patients within the first year of care while significantly reducing prescription drug usage and referrals to specialists. An independently validated analysis of 20,000 high-cost patients with chronic conditions demonstrated a 2x return on investment (ROI) and a 32% reduction in medical spending within 24 months.

The company has expanded significantly this year, establishing partnerships with major insurers in New York and California, extending its reach to 10 million patients within in-network services.

Dr. Berzin expressed enthusiasm for Parsley Health’s growth, stating, “A year ago, we were just launching our first employer. By January 1, we will be serving double-digit numbers of employers. We are experiencing remarkable growth among employers. We are in the process of establishing health plans with our first value-based contracts, which is incredibly exciting. I founded Parsley Health in 2016 with the belief that the winds of change in favor of value-based care were beginning to blow, and these winds would ultimately become strong enough to allow Parsley to interact with the healthcare system in that manner.”

To date, Parsley Health has secured over

$100 million in funding and completed its series C funding round in 2021.

Parsley Health currently serves “tens of thousands of members” nationwide, according to Dr. Berzin.


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