"The United States is the only advanced economy in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate. Deaths related to childbirth in the United States are nearing the highest rate in a quarter-century. An estimated 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in 2013, compared with 7.2 per 100,000 in 1987. This means a woman giving birth here is twice as likely to die than in Saudi Arabia and three times as likely than in the United Kingdom.
The problem is particularly acute in the South. For instance, Mississippi’s maternal mortality rate, one of the highest in the country, has been climbing for more than a decade. From 2010 to 2012, the last measure, an average of nearly 40 women died for every 100,000 births. Risk varied drastically by race: The rate for black women, 54.7, was much higher than the rate for white women, 29.3...
The cost of care for pregnant women, meanwhile, has sharply risen. The average cost of delivery here has nearly tripled since 1996, according to a Truven Health Analytics analysis for the New York Times. Maternal and newborn care make up the largest category of hospital payouts for most insurers and state Medicaid programs. Our country's approximate four million annual births cost more than $50 billion.
Despite heavy spending, the United States was one of just eight countries to see a rise in maternal mortality over the past decade, ranking 60 for pregnancy-related deaths on a list of 180 countries, according to research last year from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Other countries that also saw a rise in maternal mortality included Afghanistan, Greece, El Salvador and South Sudan."