Unintended Pregnancy Rates Linked to Proportion of Women Uninsured or on Medicaid

A new analysis from researchers at the Guttmacher Institute found that states’ unintended pregnancy rates are related to the proportion of women in the state who are uninsured and receiving Medicaid.

The rates of unintended pregnancy vary widely across states and research has found that some women have much higher rates of unintended pregnancy than others.  Specifically, black and Hispanic women and women living in poverty experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy.  Researchers conducted the current analysis to determine whether a state’s demographic and socioeconomic make up was related to its rates of unintended pregnancy.  

Though their initial analysis revealed a strong relationship between a state’s ethnic composition and its unintended pregnancy rates, further analyses showed that most of this relationship was accounted for by other factors.  What did remain significant, however, was the proportion of women in a given state who receive Medicaid and are uninsured.  This was strongly associated with the state’s unintended pregnancy rate.  Specifically, the researchers found, “the greater the proportion of women who lacked insurance, or the lower the proportion covered by Medicaid, the higher the unintended pregnancy rate.”

According to the authors, these findings suggest that states look at efforts to expand insurance and Medicaid coverage among groups with high levels of unintended pregnancy as a possible way to lower these rates.    

Variation in State Unintended Pregnancy Rates in the United States” is currently available online and will appear in the March 2012 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

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