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Racial and Economic Inequities Persist in Severe Maternal Morbidity Rates, IMI Finds in New Study


January 29, 2021



Racial and Economic Inequities Persist in Severe Maternal Morbidity Rates, IMI Finds in New Study

Washington, DC – Among all payers, Black pregnant individuals had 2.2 times the rate of severe maternal morbidity (SMM) compared with White, and that Hispanic and Asian pregnant individuals had 1.6 and 1.5 times the rates. The study found that Black pregnant individuals with Medicaid did not have higher rates of SMM compared to Black pregnant individuals with private insurance. The study also found that Black-White, Hispanic-White, and Asian-White disparities were smaller when considering Medicaid and private coverage groups separately. The differences found should not be attributed to race and ethnicity itself but rather to the root causes that exacerbate the inequity, including structural racism and implicit biases.

The new study “Race, Medicaid Coverage, and Equity in Maternal Morbidity,” published in Women’s Health Issues evaluated rates of SMM during childbirth delivery hospitalizations using the National Inpatient Sample, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, years 2016-2017.

The study examined the rates of SMM in pregnant individuals with different payers, stratified by race/ethnicity. Given the consistently higher rates of SMM among Black pregnant individuals compared to White, and for those with Medicaid coverage compared to those with private insurance, efforts that focus on addressing structural oppressors are needed to improve equity in maternal morbidity and other maternal health outcomes.

Access and read the full study 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

ltonkonow@medicaidinnovation.org