News & Updates

Mental Health Conditions Increase Severe Maternal Morbidity by 50% and Cost $102 Million Annually

October 5, 2021

Mental Health Conditions Increase Severe Maternal Morbidity by 50% and Cost $102 Million Annually

Mental health conditions are diagnosed in 1-in-5 pregnant and postpartum individuals and yet, most do not receive treatment. For those enrolled in Medicaid, the statistics are even more alarming, a trend that is compounded by fragmented care between physical and behavior health services and supports. The October issue of Health Affairs, focused on perinatal mental health, was led by IMI’s founding executive director, Dr. Jennifer Moore, who served as the special theme advisor.

In the issue, national research and policy experts shed light on the growing national issue of perinatal mental health, offering new insight into trends while also outlining policy opportunities.

IMI’s senior research fellows Drs. Clare Brown and Karen George along with Dr. Moore have an article featured in the theme issue, presenting data on the relationship between perinatal mental health and maternal morbidity rates and cost estimates. The authors found that for individuals with perinatal mental health disorders, their delivery costs were $458 higher, and these individuals had 50% higher rates of severe maternal morbidity compared with those without mental health disorders. The authors estimated increased annual costs of $102 million in the U.S. associated with perinatal mental health conditions during delivery hospitalizations. Furthermore, individuals diagnosed with trauma- or stress- related mental health disorders had an even higher rates of hospitalization costs, $825 higher per delivery and 87% higher rates of severe maternal morbidity.

In the Health Affairs theme issue overview paper, IMI’s Drs. Moore and Nadia Glenn provide six ways policymakers can work towards addressing disparities in perinatal mental health including 1) extending Medicaid coverage to more individuals and for longer periods of time, 2) encouraging co-location of services, 3) providing coverage for community-based models of care, 4) enhancing telehealth policies to increase access to telehealth services, 5) enhancing data, research, and accountability related to perinatal mental health, and 6) enacting policies that support families such as paid leave.

The October Health Affairs issue can be accessed here. An accompanying podcast interview on the theme issue featuring IMI’s Dr. Moore released in conjunction with the October issue is available here. A link to a recording of the release event featuring a panel of authors from the issue, including Drs. Moore and Brown, can be accessed here.


About the Institute for Medicaid Innovation

The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization that provides independent, nonpartisan information and analysis to inform Medicaid policy and improve the health of the nation.


Media Contact

Lydia Tonkonow