Uninsured New Mothers' Health and Health Care Challenges Highlight the Benefits of Increasing Postpartum Medicaid Coverage

Brief

Uninsured New Mothers' Health and Health Care Challenges Highlight the Benefits of Increasing Postpartum Medicaid Coverage

Abstract

Alarming increases in US maternal mortality have generated national attention and a search for policy solutions to promote maternal health. This analysis uses 2015–18 data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to document access and affordability challenges facing uninsured new mothers and 2015–17 data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) to describe the health status of women who lost Medicaid coverage following their pregnancies. About 1 in 5 uninsured new moms reported at least one unmet need for medical care because of cost in the past year, and over half were very worried about paying their medical bills. Moreover, about one-third of new moms who lost Medicaid and became uninsured were recovering from a cesarean section, and just over one-quarter reported being depressed sometimes, often, or always in the months after giving birth. Together, our analysis provides new evidence on the access and affordability barriers that could be reduced and the health problems that could be treated if these uninsured new mothers were to gain coverage through a postpartum Medicaid extension or broader Medicaid expansion.

Research Area: 

Centers

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