ATLANTA – A new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families has found that about 20% of Georgia women of childbearing age are uninsured.
The rate of uninsured women between 18 and 44 years old is one of the highest in the country, putting Georgia in 46th place on a national ranking, the report said.
Almost half of women of childbearing age who identify as Latina are uninsured, the report found. That’s nearly double the national average.
The report comes as Georgia policy makers work to improve maternal and infant health.
In 2020, there were 24.5 maternal deaths in Georgia per 100,000 live births, slightly above the national rate. Maternal mortality rates are particularly high among Black women, who face a rate of 41 deaths per 100,000 live births, the report said.
Some women and infants can get insurance through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), so the report also looked at how well those programs provide infant and maternal care.
The information reflects the latest federal data, which is from 2019, before the pandemic.
Just above three-quarters of women on Medicaid or CHIP are receiving timely prenatal care, putting Georgia in 30th place. About two-thirds of new mothers are getting adequate postpartum care.
About 12.1% of new births covered by the programs are low birthweight (under 2,500 grams), putting Georgia 48th in the state rankings.
And just over two-thirds of Georgia children on Medicaid and CHIP are getting all of their recommended check-ups during the first 15 months of life, the report said, putting Georgia in 21st place.
“This report not only paints a bleak picture of existing health coverage gaps for all women of reproductive age in Georgia, but also shows how the state’s poor performance on maternal and infant health issues could lead to widening disparities in health,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
“The state’s decision not to expand Medicaid continues to put the health of its mothers at risk and undermines the opportunity for Georgia’s children to get a healthy start in life.”
Gov. Brian Kemp and other Georgia Republican leaders have remained staunchly opposed to Medicaid expansion in the state, citing its costs. Georgia is now one of 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid.
“Traditional Medicaid expansion would cause approximately 200,000 people to lose the ability to purchase health insurance for free,” Kemp spokeswoman Katie Byrd said.
The federal government this week denied Kemp’s plan to set up a private health insurance marketplace in Georgia. The governor’s plan would have allowed 50,000 uninsured Georgians to purchase private insurance, Byrd said.
Kemp has taken other steps to improve women’s health in the state, Byrd said.
The governor supported bills to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from six months to one year following birth and create supportive housing for pregnant women and new mothers. He also added funding to the state’s budget to support mothers with cardiovascular conditions, Byrd said.
The state Medicaid agency recently announced it will provide additional funding to safety-net hospitals Grady Memorial and Augusta University Medical Center to improve health outcomes, Byrd said.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.