Women from racial and ethnic minority communities and low-income women have limited and fragmented access to high-quality maternity care services and experience worse pregnancy outcomes. The maternity care system is ill-equipped to address many perinatal disparities that arise from social factors such as poverty, social isolation, low education, and racism. Resources are wasted on ineffective services and unnecessary procedures while payors often fail to reimburse for preventive services that might especially benefit low-income and minority women and ameliorate disparities. Implementing comprehensive health reform strategies would help ensure that all women and newborns have access to and receive comprehensive high-quality, high-value reproductive health and maternity care.
Major Recommendations and Action Steps
- Expand access to services that have been shown to improve the quality and outcomes of maternity care for vulnerable populations.
- Conduct research into the determinants and the distribution of disparities in maternity care risks and outcomes of care, and improve the capacity of the performance measurement infrastructure to measure such disparities.
- Compare effectiveness of interventions to reduce disparities in maternity services and outcomes, and implement and assess effective interventions.
- Improve maternity care and outcomes in populations experiencing disparities by increasing the number of underrepresented minority care-givers and improving the cultural and linguistic competence of health professionals generally.
Learn More, Make Change: Resources for Improvement
- View the webinar, Disparities in Maternity Care, with experts, Ray Cox and Kevin Fiscella.
- Find ongoing projects related to maternity care disparities.
- Find data about disparities in the Data Center.
- Browse our bibliography of studies and reports related to maternity care disparities.