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The Benefits of Prenatal Care Access for Members

By Jennifer S. Kiesewetter | Sep 6, 2017

Many factors during a woman's pregnancy contribute to the health of mother and baby, including a balanced diet, proper weight management and exercise, according to Healthline. However, one important factor in determining a healthy pregnancy is access to quality and affordable prenatal care, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) explained. This care is critical for women in their first trimester as it reduces complications for both mother and child. The benefits of such care are significant, and the education on these benefits for members is critical.

Ensuring Care and Reducing Complications

Prenatal care is vital, beginning in the mother's first trimester and continuing through the baby's birth. According to AMCHP, women who don't receive this care run the risk of dying from complications during pregnancy triple or even quadruple compared to those receiving care. Such statistics are higher for high-risk pregnancies. Babies born to mothers not receiving such care are three times more likely to have low birth weight and have five times the likelihood to die in infancy.

A report from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals explained that the most common complications for the first three months of pregnancy were fetal abnormalities, early or threatened labor and hemorrhage. The costs for health care during this period was between $987 and $10,287.

C-section Risks

According to Consumer Reports, the most common surgery in the United States is a cesarean section, with 1 out of every 3 babies delivered this way. Although c-sections are necessary for certain high-risk pregnancies; for most low-risk pregnancies, they aren't required.

Further, a c-section may add health risks to both mother and child and may increase birth costs. Neel Shah, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, told Consumer Reports that unnecessary c-sections could be the main cause of approximately 20,000 birth complications every year. C-sections are also 30 percent more expensive than traditional births.

Prenatal Care Programs

Along with offering prenatal care to mothers, many insurance providers offer specific programs designed to help mothers have healthier pregnancies. For example, Anthem's Future Moms combines "risk assessment, education and support to reduce the risk of pregnancy complication, particularly pre-term labor."

Additionally, Anthem's program encourages pregnant women to follow their prescribed physician's plan of care. This program enhances the mother's prenatal care provided by her physician through compliance, education and understanding while reducing complications for the mother.

Access to prenatal care and participation in programs such as Future Moms are essential to improving outcomes for both women and their babies. Providing such care to members significantly improves the health of the pregnancy, the delivery and the baby while contributing to reductions in complications and expenses.

Jennifer Kiesewetter, founding and managing member of Kiesewetter Law Firm in Memphis, Tennessee, is a seasoned attorney in the field of employee benefits. Ms. Kiesewetter's practice includes regulatory compliance and governance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in addition to the other federal laws governing employee benefits and health care compliance regulatory law. She's also an Adjunct Professor of Employee Benefits at University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Additionally, Ms. Kiesewetter is a frequent writer and speaker on the topic of employee benefits and health care compliance regulatory law, locally, regionally and nationally.

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