The United States is one of 23 countries where maternal mortality is rising. According to a WHO report, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2010, the rate in the U.S. is rising along with countries such as Zimbabwe and Costa Rica. This could be about to change as the Affordable Care Act comes into effect on the 1st August. The new Act will require insurers and Medicaid to cover preventative services for women without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible.
America currently has the highest maternal mortality, that is pregnant women or new mothers dying, than any other industrialized nation. In 2009, 16.1 women died per 100,000 live births, according to the Health and Human Services Administration. This compares to a low of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1987.
Under the new guidelines, millions of women will be given access to free health services. Group health plans and issuers that have maintained grandfathered (were in existence on March 23, 2010) status are not required to cover these services. In addition, certain non profit religious organizations, such as churches and schools, are not required to cover these services.
The full list of the eight new services included are:
- Well-woman visits.
- Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
- FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
- HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
- Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
- HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.
While America still has a way to go; there are major disparities between mortality rates and race for example, for the 47 million women who will be getting greater control over their healthcare the Affordable Care Act can only be a step in the right direction.