It’s shocking to think that a country as advanced as the United States has a maternal death rate that is continually rising. The most current data finds that there are now 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which includes pregnancy, childbirth or subsequent complications. The U.S. infant mortality rate has also been consistently higher than other developed nations.

Policy analysts have found that economic disparities contribute significantly to these growing and largely preventable public health concerns. Without the economic means to gain reliable access to health care, too many pregnant and postpartum women are missing routine screenings and necessary care for emergent health issues.

Low-income women who have recently given birth too often experience massive changes to their health insurance policies. This largely impacts women who are slightly above the income cutoff limit for Medicaid. It is not uncommon for new mothers to lose coverage entirely (sometimes as early as two months after giving birth) because they suddenly become ineligible for Medicaid.

Any disruption in health coverage can lead to fragmented care, even for higher-income individuals who may subscribe to private insurance. However, women reliant on Medicaid are more at risk because they often remain uninsured for longer periods of time if their policies lapse or they become ineligible. This also extends to women who find themselves in the middle of these two categories or at around double the federal poverty level.

In response to climbing mortality rates, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allowed Medicaid coverage for new mothers to be in force for up to one year after they give birth. This new legislation was enacted in April 2021 and aims to eliminate poor access to care as one of the leading causes of maternal death and illness. Once local governments pass the supporting legislation, they will be eligible for federal funding for this program.

Insurance providers are encouraged to conduct a network audit to ensure they will have enough providers on board to meet the potential increase in demand for women’s health services. TOG specializes in building and auditing provider networks and closely monitors ever changing regulatory requirements in all 50 states. Start here to schedule your initial consultation.