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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

Improving Maternal Health Care Would Save Lives and Prevent Economic Losses, Especially for Women of Color

Key Points:
Despite spending more on health care, the United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than other advanced economies
Maternal morbidity harms women and their children and costs the United States billions each year
Women of color experience disproportionately higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity
Reducing maternal morbidity and mortality can save lives and improve economy-wide outcomes

Among wealthy, industrialized countries, the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality as well as an elevated rate of maternal morbidity, which refers to serious illness related to pregnancy and childbirth. First and foremost, deteriorating maternal health is a human tragedy, one that disproportionately affects communities of color. It also imposes serious health and financial hardships on women and their families, which have economy-wide implications. The economic toll of elevated maternal risk costs the United States billions of dollars each year and contributes to widespread economic insecurity.  

With almost 24 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2020, the United States’ maternal mortality rate is nearly three times higher than that of any other wealthy, industrialized nations. Women giving birth in the United States also experience high rates of maternal morbidity, which includes any health condition caused or worsened by pregnancy or childbirth. For the 3.7 million births that occurred in 2021, as many as 480,000 women—or more than 1 in 8—experienced maternal morbidity. This causes adverse maternal and child health outcomes and costs the United States over $32 billion from conception through age 5 for all children born in a single calendar year.  

Addressing maternal mortality and morbidity will save lives, support healthy families and promote a strong and stable economy. Ensuring equitable, affordable access to health care, supporting a more diverse maternal care workforce and increasing data availability are critical first steps. 

Read the full report.