"The total amount spent on health care in the USA is greater than in any other country in the world. Hospitalization related to pregnancy and childbirth costs some US$86 billion a year; the highest hospitalization costs of any area of medicine. Despite this, women in the USA have a greater lifetime risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than women in 40 other countries. For example, the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the USA is five times greater than in Greece, four times greater than in Germany, and three times greater than in Spain. More than two women die every day in the USA from pregnancy-related causes.
Maternal deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. Severe complications that result in a woman nearly dying, known as a “near miss”, increased by 25 per cent between 1998 and 2005. During 2004 and 2005, 68,433 women nearly died in childbirth in the USA. More than a third of all women who give birth in the USA – 1.7 million women each year – experience some type of complication that has an adverse effect on their health. African-American women are at especially high risk; they are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. Even for white women in the USA, however, the maternal mortality ratios are higher than for women in 24 other industrialized countries. These rates and disparities have not improved in more than 20 years. Maternal mortality ratios have actually increased from a low of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006. While some of the increase may be due to improved data collection, the fact that maternal mortality ratios have doubled is a cause for concern."