The True Cost of High Risk Pregnancy

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Jane’s Friday Thoughts are a collection of entries on the state of modern maternity from OB-GYN and Maven Medical Director, Jane van Dis.

As a physician, my focus is health, science, best practices, best outcomes, patient satisfaction, and following recommendations and guidelines from medical societies like the American College of OB-GYN. Physicians often know very little about cost, especially not the insurance side of cost. Still, the ethical and judicious use of limited resources can and should be part of every physician's conversation. For example, I often think about birth control prescriptions, and how when women don't have low-cost access to something so basic, their lives can be markedly impacted. I discuss this in an interview I did with Popular Science (with the assistance of Maven’s PR firm, Inkhouse). It was published yesterday, and you can read it here.  

But in today's Friday Maven Message, I wanted to talk a little bit about the costs of high-risk pregnancy.  

Why it matters

  • High-risk pregnancies comprise 6-7% of all pregnancies in the US and contribute to increased rates of cesarean section, as well as NICU admissions, both high health care costs. Pregnancy and childbirth account for 25% of all hospital admissions in the US.

  • National average for engagement in prenatal care (of any kind) is only 70.8%.

  • $1 billion is spent annually in the US on high-risk pregnancies.

  • For every $1 spent on preconception care, $1.60 is saved on maternal and fetal care costs. These are costs prevented by engaging women in health care and screening before they become pregnantfor instance, getting them on a glucose control drug, if necessary.

  • 50% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned.

  • 13% of births in the US are preterm.

  • The average cost of a baby born at term is around $5000.

  • The average cost of a baby born preterm is around $55,000.

  • The average cost of a baby born preterm prior to 32 weeks is over $250,000.

  • According to the March of Dimes, preterm births in 2014 cost employers in excess of $12 billion.

How Maven helps

Studies have shown that when women engage before pregnancy or in the first trimester, they can have markedly improved pregnancies. With proper prenatal care, high-risk conditions can be diagnosed and treated early, women are more compliant with recommendations, and outcomes for mothers and babies are improved. Maven’s Care Coordinators do an amazing job of seeing the whole patient and helping clients navigate their healthcare.

Bottom line

A whole-patient approach to prenatal care saves money and improves outcomes, and Maven offers this through engagement, education, anticipatory guidance, screening and referrals.

Happy Friday everyone!

Take care,
Jane