In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now men, on average, die almost six years earlier than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It’s a long-known fact, but we rarely consider the reasons – or acknowledge that there’s a solution to closing this gap.

In addition to dying younger, men are also more likely to develop the most serious chronic conditions. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), men are 50 percent more likely than women to die of cancer, and almost twice as many men as women die of heart disease.

Despite these facts, women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventative services than men, according to the CDC.

Our reasons as men are as varied as we are: Busy Schedules – Impatience – Cost – Fear – We Prefer to “Tough it Out.”

Women could use the same script to escape preventative care, but, on average, they don’t.

So why is this? On January 23, we will have a unique opportunity in Connecticut to put our collective minds together and answer some of these basic questions.

As part of Man Up, a statewide men’s health initiative that I recently launched (www.osc.ct.gov/manup), I will moderate a Man Up Roundtable – a discussion uniting health-care providers, carriers, patient advocates and patients from throughout Connecticut to drill down into the basic challenges surrounding men’s health.

I encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to join our audience and consider this problem more closely.

Specifically, the Man Up Roundtable will dig into four topics:

· The male patient perspective on health care:  Why are men, on average, more reluctant to seek preventative care? What is the male perspective on health care and how does that influence the gender disparity?
· Provider perspective:  Let’s hear from hospitals and community health centers about the ramifications for lack of preventative care, and what challenges they face in outreach to men.
· The carriers’ role: For those men who have access to health benefits, what tools do carriers have to steer men to available services?
· Eliminating disparities for minority men:  For minority men, the health care disparity grows deeper. We’ll hear from both patients and providers about what barriers have helped create this gap, and what can be done to eliminate it.

Panelists include: Paul Bluestein, senior vice president and chief medical officer at ConnectiCare; Frank Harris, III, a Hartford Courant columnist and SCSU professor who has written about this topic from the patient perspective; State Rep. Matthew Lesser who will speak as both a patient and policy maker; Dr. Muhammad Qureshi, director of Adult Medicine at United Community & Family Services; Curtis D. Robinson of The Curtis D. Robinson Men’s Health Initiative at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center; Dr. Frank M. Torti, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at UConn Health Center and state Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri.

The Man Up Roundtable will run from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Room 2A.

For more information about the Man Up campaign, visit www.osc.ct.gov/manup.

Kevin Lembo is the state of Connecticut’s comptroller.

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