Posts Tagged - ‘pregnancy’

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Should Health Insurance Plans Fully Cover Contraception?

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Image: manymeez under CC 3.0

For the most part, health insurance plans do cover contraception, such as birth control pills. However, they are usually subject to co-payments like other medications. In some cases, they are put on a higher, less-essential tier: meaning that the insurer picks up a higher percentage of the cost–for example, a woman may have to pay $25 or $30 to fill the prescription instead of $5 or $10 that she’d be charged for other medications. For people with health savings accounts or other high-deductible plans, the full cost often rests on their shoulders.

Now, doctors and activists are calling for birth control to be fully covered as part of health care plans. After all, paying for those prescriptions is far less expensive than providing prenatal care (which is often sought later when unplanned), and less controversial than abortion. Some believe that the health insurance reform legislation can be interpreted as mandating such coverage by the Department of Health and Human Services, due to an added amendment to the healthcare reform bill.

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Obese Mothers-To-Be Cost Hospitals More

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Image: -mrsraggle- under CC 3.0

The obesity epidemic has resorted in an increasing number of pregnant women who are already overweight prior to becoming pregnant. Although losing weight prior to conceiving is ideal, that is not always possible. Unfortunately, both the baby and mother can experience serious complications, which her health insurance plan must pay for.

As a result, hospitals must spend far more money on delivery for obese mothers. Caring for a premature birth–which is more likely in seriously obese women–helps drive the cost up to $200,000 for that high-risk birth. By contrast, a normal delivery costs about $13,000. The increased expense of labor and specialized supplies is passed on through higher health insurance rates for all women.

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Family Health Insurance Steers Pregnant Women Towards C-Sections

Friday, February 5th, 2010

(Image: Andrea Fregnani under CC 2.0)

It was recently found that almost one-third of the pregnant women in the United States give birth by Cesarean section, a far higher rate than other developed nations. While C-sections are often necessary, they are nevertheless surgical procedures that can harm both mother and child. Many doctors believe that they be performed in only 10% of pregnancies at most.

A common misconception is that American women choose to have C-sections–sometimes even scheduling them–but that is actually relatively rare. Another explanation for the high Cesarean section rate in the U.S. may be our health insurance system. Unlike many other countries, family health insurance reimburses physicians and hospitals with a flat fee for the birth, regardless of how it is performed. Some doctors may unconsciously steer their patients towards a C-section, since medical insurance doesn’t offer an incentive for them to perform longer vaginal labor instead. To the contrary: some medical insurance companies actually have higher reimbursement rates for C-sections!

Meanwhile, most hospitals can charge far more for a Cesarean section birth, which gives them more opportunity to pad their maternity care profit margins. In addition, doctors may also be performing C-sections in order to lessen the risk of a medical malpractice claim being filed against them; physicians tend to be sued for failing to take action more often than taking the wrong action. Breech babies (which are in the wrong position for vaginal birth) can sometimes be turned around through changes in positioning and waiting, but time pressures and legal concerns reduce the likelihood that an obstetrician would take that risk. All of those factors combine, and the cost is passed onto the new mother through her family health insurance premiums.

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Baby Deaths Mystery Solved

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Researchers say they’ve made discoveries into one of the most frightening issues for new parents today: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A new study found that babies who died of SIDS had low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps the brainstem regulate breathing, temperature, sleeping, waking and other automatic functions, according to an autopsy study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Babies normally sense high carbon-dioxide levels automatically and wake up. Babies who don’t respond appropriately, however, may never wake up.

This discovery could be breakthrough information for thousands of parents who suddenly lose their babies. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old, and claims the lives of about 2,500 each year in the United States. Up to this point, scientists had not been able to link any definite cause to these deaths. Almost all SIDS deaths occur without any warning or symptoms when the infant is believed to be sleeping.

SIDS seems to happen more often in premature and low-birth-weight babies. It also is seen more often in babies whose mothers were without affordable health insurance and did not receive good medical care during the pregnancy and in babies whose mothers smoke. Educational campaigns have significantly reduced SIDS rates. During which time, parents learn the most important measure to take to try and prevent SIDS. Topping the list is placing the baby to sleep on his or her back rather than on the stomach or side.

It is best to get medical insurance from a company like Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Health Care before becoming pregnant. Some health insurance plans consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition, and may not cover your prenatal cost.

Doctors eventually hope to use their new discovery to screen babies for serotonin problems and find a way to protect them, says co-author David Paterson, also of Harvard and Children’s Hospital. Those developments are still years away, he says.

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