According to a new report released by the Commonwealth Fund, women in the United States between the ages 18-49 have the highest rate of avoidable deaths compared to other high-income countries.

The U.S. health care system is significantly lacking support for a wide range of women’s health care needs, according to a recent issue brief from the Commonwealth Fund. The brief, using data from the Commonwealth Fund’s 2020 International Health Policy Survey and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), compares health care access and outcomes for women ages 18-49 in 11 high-income countries.

The report found:

  • Only 26 percent of U.S. women gave a high rating to the performance of their country’s health care system, a significantly lower percentage than women in the other countries
  • Half of U.S. women reported having to skip or delay needed care due to cost-related problems in the past year, the most out of the 11 countries
  • Women in the U.S. are significantly more likely to report at least one medical bill problem
  • Women in the U.S. have the highest rate of avoidable deaths, with nearly 200 in 100,000 deaths which could have been prevented
  • The U.S. continues to have the highest maternal mortality rate related to complications during birth or pregnancy, with a disproportionate impact on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die from maternal complications

“Research shows that investing in women’s health results in a healthier overall population, healthier future generations, and greater social and economic benefits. Yet the U.S. remains the only wealthy country without universal health care, leaving about 10 million women without insurance,” wrote report authors. “There are a number of steps U.S. policymakers can take to substantially improve health and wellness for women of reproductive age.”

Study authors called for policymakers to take several steps to improve health care for women in the U.S., including:

  • Extend comprehensive, affordable primary care to all women by expanding on Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms, including enhancing marketplace plan subsidies and providing coverage to those in Medicaid coverage gaps
  • Urge all states to extend Medicaid coverage to at least 12 months postpartum and expand implementation of federal guidelines to cover all of women’s preventive services without cost-sharing, including those enrolled in traditional Medicaid
  • Extend the ACA’s requirement to cover essential health benefits, including mental health services, to large-group employer plans
  • Grow, diversify, and invest in the U.S. health care workforce to address inequities in primary care, maternal health, and mental health