According to an analysis of statewide data taken from 1998-2001, women in Oregon who made less than $50,000 a year were more than three times likely to report they were discriminated against by health providers because of their insurance status during pregnancy and delivery.
In addition, reporting of insurance-based discrimination was also three times more likely among mothers with Medicaid coverage, and four times more likely among women who did not have Medicaid or employer-sponsored health insurance.
Sheryl Thorburn, an associate professor of public health at Oregon State University, analyzed data collected from three surveys taken between the years 1998-2001 from the Oregon Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. About 5,762 women were surveyed, and Thorburn controlled for factors such as race, age, and marital status to find that there were jarring differences between reports of insurance-based discrimination by income.
The results were recently published online ahead of print in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.
Her analysis of the data found that of the women who reported insurance-based discrimination during prenatal care, labor or delivery of their babies, 43 percent had a yearly household income of less than $15,000. The remainder of women reporting discrimination had incomes of $15,000 to $49,999. Only about 4 percent of women who reported insurance-based discrimination made more than $50,000 a year.
Thorburn, who is a national expert in the area of discrimination in health care, said the results are in line with other research on insurance-based discrimination.
"These findings, along with a larger body of research in this area of discrimination, point to disparities for people with lower economic status," she said. "It also tells us that there is a lot of work to do in improving the quality of interactions for all women, especially for lower-income populations."