Extending Delivery Coverage to Include Prenatal Care for Low-Income, Immigrant Women Is a Cost-Effective Strategy

Maria I. Rodriguez | Jonas J. Swartz | Duncan Lawrence | Aaron B. Caughey
Women's Health Issues

To compare the outcomes and cost effectiveness of two alternate policy strategies for prenatal care among low-income, immigrant women: coverage for delivery only (the federal standard) and prenatal care with delivery coverage (state option under the Children’s Health Insurance Program).

A decision-analytic model was developed to determine the cost effectiveness of two alternate policies for pregnancy coverage. All states currently provide coverage for delivery, and 19 states also provide coverage for prenatal care. An estimated 84,000 unauthorized immigrant women have pregnancies where no prenatal care is covered. Our outcomes were costs, quality-adjusted life-years, and cases of cerebral palsy and infant death before age 1. Model inputs were obtained from a database of Oregon Medicaid claims and the literature. Univariate and bivariate sensitivity analyses, as well as a Monte Carlo simulation, were performed.

Extending prenatal coverage is a cost-effective strategy. Providing prenatal care for the 84,000 women annually who are currently uninsured could prevent 117 infant deaths and 34 cases of cerebral palsy. Prenatal care coverage costs $380 more per woman than covering the delivery only. For every 865 additional women receiving prenatal care, one infant death would be averted, at an average cost of $328,700. Cost-effectiveness acceptability curve analyses suggest a 99% probability that providing prenatal care is more cost effective at a willingness-to-pay threshold of $100,000 per quality-adjusted life-year.

Extending prenatal care to low-income, immigrant women, regardless of citizenship status, is a cost-effective strategy.