Background: Women face unique logistical and financial barriers to health care access. They also have higher health care expenditures and higher rates of morbidity. Women's experiences while utilizing health care are historically less well researched and warrant exploration.
Methods: We conducted 14 semistructured interviews about women's health care experiences with 11 women health consumers and 3 women health care practitioners in central North Carolina.
Results: When discussing their experiences, participants noted scheduling challenges, barriers related to insurance and cost, and dismissive or negative in-person encounters. Participants frequently discussed lack of resources for care postpartum. Practitioners noted lack of knowledge of disease burden, overmedicalization of women's care, lack of care postpartum, and trends around changes in primary care.Women health consumers in this study faced challenges related to access and in-person experience of care delivery, which were echoed by the clinician interviewees. Barriers to optimal women's health care exist even for those with insurance coverage and point to systemwide constraints as well as deficits in organizational culture.
Conclusion: Future clinical and research efforts should include 1) increasing awareness of and facilitating access to affordable postpartum care, 2) easing burdens around scheduling appointments and improved care coordination, and 3) more research exploring women's experiences during in-person health care encounters. Concerns and barriers that women described may be due to systems-level requirements and constraints.
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