Key Moments in the History of Women’s Healthcare

It was not all that long ago that talking about women’s bodies and health was considered taboo, and a lot of healthcare was hard to access, or based on superstition. Fortunately, we have come a long way from taboos and superstitions with the help of changing attitudes towards women’s healthcare, as well as medical and scientific advancements. We’ve made incredible strides in the last few centuries and decades, from the first female doctor to the birth control pill – and this Women’s History Month we wanted to take a closer look at some of the key moments in the history of women’s healthcare.

1849: The First Female Doctor

Allow us to introduce you to the first female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, who earned her medical degree 173 years ago from New York’s Geneva Medical College, ranking first in her class. And despite facing many obstacles trying to make a living in a male-dominated medical system, she set up a small clinic of her own in 1853, which became known as the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Then in 1868, she fulfilled a long-held dream when she opened the Women’s Medical College at the infirmary to help train more female doctors, since it was so difficult for women to get experience from their male counterparts.

1896: Menstrual Carewomen's pad opened up with other pads in wrappers around it

What did women do before the times of disposable tampons and pads? They had to be creative and make their own tampons and pads out of cloth, wool, and paper. But in 1896, that all changed when the first commercial menstrual care product in America was introduced: Lister’s Towels, a cotton sanitary napkin made by Johnson & Johnson. Unfortunately, it was not that successful because women did not want to be seen purchasing them, or anything that had to do with menstruation, for that matter. But then, in 1921, the first successful pad was finally introduced by the Kimberly-Clark company: Kotex.

The first disposable tampon was then introduced in 1933, after being patented by Dr. Earle Haas. That same year Haas sold his design and patent to a Denver businesswoman named Gertrude Tenderich, who founded the Tampax Sales Corporation. And women’s lives got just a little bit easier!

1914: All Hail The First Modern Bra

Before the bra was introduced, women engineered their own devices to support their breasts. They wore bands of animal skins and later wore incredibly uncomfortable corsets to enhance their shape. But that all changed in 1913, when New York City socialite Mary Phelps Jacob tried on a new sheer evening gown and saw that her tight corset poked out from underneath. So she ditched the corset and instead tied two silk handkerchiefs together with a ribbon- inventing the modern bra! In 1914, she patented her design and set up a business selling her bras, which she later sold to the Warner Brothers Corset Company.

1916: The First Birth Control Clinic

Margaret Sanger was most famous for her controversial and tireless advocacy for birth control in America. She saw firsthand the effects of women who were living in poverty having multiple children, the high infant and maternal mortality rates that resulted, as well as the pain caused by deaths from illegal abortions. So Sanger decided to try to change this, opening America’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916. In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

1960: The Birth of The Pillpack of birth control pills

In 1960, the FDA finally approved the sale of the first oral contraceptive, the birth control pill Enovid. Within two years, it was being taken by more than a million women in the United States.

1969: The Modern Mammogram

Before 1969, mammograms were performed with X-ray machines, which can produce high doses of radiation. Because many people were worried about the effects of being exposed to such high radiation, the mammography machine was invented, and became available around the world. Then in 2000, the FDA approved the first digital mammography unit, followed 11 years later by the approval of the first 3D breast imaging technology.

1977: The First Sports Brablack sports bra

Can you imagine working out without a sports bra? Well not too long ago, that was your only choice. But in 1977, University of Vermont graduate student Lisa Lindahl got tired of not having any breast support while exercising. So, along with 2 friends, she came up with the idea of sewing 2 men’s jockstraps together, and viola- she came up with the prototype of the first sports bra, the Jogbra! 

Women’s health has come a long way from what it was not that long ago. You might even remember the days before the sports bra, easily accessible birth control, or the modern mammogram machine- yikes, all that radiation! Thanks to all of these advances, and the health insurance that covers everything to keep us healthy, you can continue to take care of your health – and Medicare will cover most of the costs. 

But Medicare only covers most, not all, of your medical expenses. So if you don’t have a Medicare Supplement Plan, we urge you to look into one, so you can not only save money but get more coverage! Medicare Supplement Plans will cover what Original Medicare does not, saving you hundreds of dollars a year, so you don’t have to worry about medical bills when getting your mammogram, or anything else needed to stay on top of your health. EZ’s agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation and can compare plans in minutes for you at no cost. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

How Medicare Helps You Fight Cancer

In the United States, more than 60% of cancer cases are diagnosed in people 65 and over.  Advanced age is the biggest risk factor for cancer overall, as well as for many individual types of cancer. It is predicted that almost 2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year, and with such a large number of these diagnoses being among seniors, it is important that all older adults are fully insured, in order to be protected no matter what happens. 

After all, it’s no secret that cancer treatments are not cheap – but fortunately, Medicare will cover many of these treatments, and what is not covered by Medicare can be covered by a Medicare Supplement Plan. Whether you are dealing with cancer, or are worried about being diagnosed with it in the future, find out just how Medicare can help you kick cancer’s butt.

Prevention Is Key

According to the World Health Organization, between 30 and 50% of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer; Medicare Part B actually covers a lot of preventive measures to protect you from cancer, such as:

  • 8 smoking cessation counseling visits per year
  • mammogram machineMammograms– Breast cancer screenings are covered at 100% every 12 months, and 80% if you require more than one a year.
  • Cervical cancer screenings– These screenings are covered at 100% every two years; if you need them more often, Medicare will cover them at 80%.
  • Prostate cancer screenings– The blood test for prostate cancer is covered yearly, but an annual digital rectal exam is only covered at 80%.
  • Colorectal cancer screening– The blood test for this cancer is covered every year, and colonoscopies are covered every two years if you are considered high risk, or every 6 years if you are not high risk. Part B will cover extra screenings at 80%.

How Medicare Covers:

Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments can be very expensive because they are ongoing, and can be required for months or years to help you fight your cancer. You will need diagnostic tests like X-rays and CT scans, which are covered at 80% by Part B. In addition, if you need durable medical equipment, like wheelchairs and walkers, Medicare will also cover these at 80%.

Chemotherapy is covered under part A or Part B, depending on if you receive your treatment in a hospital setting or at a doctor’s office; if you choose to have oral chemotherapy treatment, Part B will also cover these costs.


If you need to have surgery, or surgeries, because of your cancer, Part A will cover any inpatient surgeries and hospital stays, as well as any treatments or medications you receive while admitted,  at 100%. Then, after you have been admitted to the hospital for three days, Part A will also cover any skilled nursing facility care or home health care services that are required after your hospital stay. This can include rehabilitation center services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and skilled nursing care.

hands holding an elderly person's hand
Medicare will pay 100% for hospice care and cover grief counseling for your family.

It is important to know your status while you are in the hospital for these surgeries. If you are considered an outpatient, or under observation, Part A will not cover the costs. Instead, Part B would pay for the costs at 80% of the allowable charges, and you would have to pay 20% after meeting your Part B deductible.

Hospice Care

If it comes to the point that you require hospice care, this type of care is covered 100% by Medicare. Grief and loss counseling for you and your family is also covered by Medicare.

Extra Help

As stated, Medicare Part B, which covers the costs of cancer prevention and treatments, only covers 80% of these costs. This will leave you with the remaining 20% to pay for out-of-pocket, but a Medicare Supplement Plan can help you pay the medical expenses that aren’t covered by Medicare Part B. One of these plans can actually help you save hundreds, or maybe even thousands of dollars each year. 

Medicare Supplement Plans can cover your Part A deductible and coinsurance costs, as well as your Medicare Part B copayment, coinsurance, and deductible. There are 10 different plans to choose from, and depending on which plan you choose, you could get anywhere from 75% coverage of your medical expenses all the way up to 100%. Each plan offers a range of coverage at different price points; if you are battling cancer, your best option is to get the plan with the most coverage possible, so you will only have to worry about paying your Medicare Supplement Plan monthly premiums. 

Medicare Supplement Plans can help save you money and keep you from stressing over medical bills for your cancer treatments, leaving you with more time and energy to focus on your health. EZ can compare all 10 Medicare Supplement Plans and find the one that will meet your financial and medical needs. Our agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation, which makes comparing plans easy, quick, and free – our services come at no cost to you because we just want to help you save money so you can focus on your health. To get free instant quotes on plans that cover your doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

Medicare Coverage For Mammograms

Breast cancer. Those two words can be terrifying, especially for older women. The median age for a breast cancer diagnosis is 61 years old, with 41% of breast cancer cases diagnosed in women age 65 and older. In addition, the median age of death from breast cancer is 68 years old. These are scary statistics for older women, but there is one simple thing you can do to minimize your risk. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want older women with Medicare to understand how mammograms can help detect (and successfully treat) breast cancer, as well as how they are covered under Medicare.   

The Different Types Of Mammograms

3D of breast tissue

A mammogram is generally scheduled every year for women aged 50 and older to help with early  detection of breast cancer. It is a simple procedure: once you remove your clothing from the waist up, you will place each breast between two specialized plates on the machine. The breast is then compressed for imaging. It might be uncomfortable and there might be some pain involved, but the compression does not last longer than a few seconds each time. The 3 types of mammograms are:

  1. Film Mammograms– Conventional 2-D X-rays record black and white images on large sheets of film.
  2. Digital Mammograms– 2-D black and white images of the breast are taken and then recorded into a computer. This allows the doctor to zoom in and enlarge the picture to take a closer look.
  3. 3-D Mammograms– 3-D images of the breast are taken in thin slices. This type of mammogram has been shown to improve the diagnosis of cancer in dense breast tissues.

Screening Vs Diagnostic Mammograms

caucasian person wearing a pink hoddie while holdikng a pink ribbon up to their chest area

The mammograms you get at your doctors office are classified in two different ways: screening and diagnostic. Screening mammograms are administered as part of a routine checkup to detect breast cancer in women who have no apparent symptoms. Diagnostic mammograms, on the other hand, are used after abnormal results on a screening mammogram, or if there are signs of breast cancer, such as a lump, that alerts a physician that there may be a problem.

Doctors use the same machines for both screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms.  Screening mammograms usually consists of taking two or more images of each breast while diagnostic mammograms involve taking a higher number of images from different angles.

Medicare Part B

If you have Medicare Part B, both screening and diagnostic mammograms are covered, but there are different coverage levels and out-of-pocket costs depending on your situation.  Medicare will pay for:

  • One screening mammogram every 12 months if you’re 40 or older.

    calendar with a green checkmark on a date
    Medicare will pay for one screening mammogram every 12 months if you’re 40 or older.
  • One or more diagnostic mammograms, if necessary, to diagnose breast cancer
  • Both conventional and 3-D mammogram costs, if the provider offers 3-D mammograms.
  • Transportation costs if you need to get to your mammogram appointment

You will pay nothing for a screening mammogram as long as your doctor accepts Medicare assignment. However, if your doctor recommends more frequent tests or additional services, you might have to pay co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs. For example, as with many services, Medicare will cover 80% of the costs of diagnostic mammograms and you will pay the other 20% of the medicare-approved amount. You can avoid these out-of-pocket costs if you have a Medicare Supplement Plan. As long as you pay your monthly premium, many of these plans will cover your share of the costs.

If you are looking for ways to help pay for mammograms or any other Medicare costs, a Medicare Supplement Plan is a great option for you. There are 10 different types of Medicare supplement plans to choose from, so it can be a lot of work trying to determine which one is best for your needs. EZ is here to help make the process as painless as possible: we will provide you with a personal agent who will compare all available plans in your area, and sign you up with a Medicare Supplement Plan that is within your budget. To get started simply enter your zip code in the bar above or to speak to one of our highly-trained licensed agents, call 888-753-7207.