Patterns of Health Insurance Coverage Around the Time of Pregnancy Among Women with Live-Born Infants—Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 29 States, 2009

Denise V D'Angelo, Brenda Le, Mary Elizabeth O'Neil, Letitia Williams, Indu B Ahluwalia, Leslie L Harrison, R Louise Floyd, Violanda Grigorescu
MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2015 June 19, 64 (4): 1-19

PROBLEM/CONDITION: In 2009, before passage of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), approximately 20% of women aged 18-64 years had no health insurance coverage. In addition, many women experienced transitions in coverage around the time of pregnancy. Having no health insurance coverage or experiencing gaps or shifts in coverage can be a barrier to receiving preventive health services and treatment for health problems that could affect pregnancy and newborn health. With the passage of ACA, women who were previously uninsured or had insurance that provided inadequate coverage might have better access to health services and better coverage, including additional preventive services with no cost sharing. Because certain elements of ACA (e.g., no lifetime dollar limits, dependent coverage to age 26, and provision of preventive services without cost sharing) were implemented as early as September 2010, data from 2009 can be used as a baseline to measure the incremental impact of ACA on the continuity of health care coverage for women around the time of pregnancy.


DESCRIPTION OF SYSTEM: The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is an ongoing state- and population-based surveillance system designed to monitor selected maternal behaviors and experiences that occur before, during, and shortly after pregnancy among women who deliver live-born infants in selected U.S. states and New York City, New York. PRAMS uses mixed-mode data collection, in which up to three self-administered surveys are mailed to a sample of mothers, and those who do not respond are contacted for telephone interviews. Self-reported survey data are linked to birth certificate data and weighted for sample design, nonresponse, and noncoverage. Annual PRAMS data sets are created and used to produce statewide estimates of preconception and perinatal health behaviors and experiences in selected states and New York City. This report summarizes data from 29 states that conducted PRAMS in 2009, before the passage of ACA, and achieved an overall weighted response rate of ≥65%. Data on the prevalence of health insurance coverage stability (stable coverage, unstable coverage, and uninsured) across three time periods (the month before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and at the time of delivery) are reported by state and selected maternal characteristics. Women with stable coverage had the same type of health insurance (private or Medicaid) for all three time periods. Women with unstable coverage experienced a change in health insurance coverage between any of the three time periods. This includes movement from having no insurance coverage to gaining coverage, movement from one type of coverage to another, and loss of coverage. Women in the uninsured group had no insurance coverage during any of the three time periods. Estimates for health insurance stability across the three time periods and estimates of coverage during each time period are presented by state. Patterns of movement between the different types of health insurance coverage among women with unstable coverage are described by state and selected maternal characteristics.

RESULTS: In 2009, 30.1% of women who had a live birth experienced changes in health insurance coverage in the period between the month before pregnancy and the time of delivery, either because they lacked coverage at some point or because they moved between different types of coverage. Most women had stable coverage across the three time periods, reporting either private coverage (52.8%) or Medicaid coverage (16.1%) throughout. A small percentage of women (1.1%) reported having no health insurance coverage at any point. Overall, Medicaid coverage increased from 16.6% in the month before pregnancy to 43.9% at delivery. Private coverage decreased from 59.9% in the month before pregnancy to 54.6% at delivery. The percentage of women who were uninsured decreased from 23.4% in the month before pregnancy to 1.5% at the time of delivery. Among those who experienced changes in coverage, 74.4% reported having no insurance the month before pregnancy, 23.9% reported having private insurance, and 1.8% reported having Medicaid. Among those who started out uninsured before pregnancy, 70.2% reported Medicaid coverage, and 4.1% reported private coverage at the time of delivery. Among those who started out with private coverage, 21.3% reported Medicaid coverage at delivery, and 1.4% reported being uninsured. As a result of these transitions in health insurance coverage, 92.4% of all women who experienced a change in health insurance around the time of pregnancy reported Medicaid coverage at delivery. No women with unstable coverage who started out without insurance in the month before pregnancy reported being uninsured at the time of delivery. Women who reported unstable coverage were more likely to be young (aged <35 years), be a minority (black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native), have a high school education or less, be unmarried, have incomes ≤200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), or have an unintended pregnancy compared with women with stable private coverage. Compared with women with stable Medicaid coverage, women with unstable coverage were more likely to be Hispanic but less likely to be teenagers (aged ≤19 years), be black, have a high school education or less, have incomes ≤200% of the FPL, or have an unintended pregnancy. Women with unstable coverage were more likely than women in either stable coverage group (private or Medicaid) to report entering prenatal care after the first trimester.

INTERPRETATION: In 2009, nearly one third of women reported lacking health insurance or transitioning between types of health insurance coverage around the time of pregnancy. The majority of women who changed health insurance status obtained coverage for prenatal care, delivery, or both through Medicaid. Health insurance coverage during pregnancy can help facilitate access to health care and allow for the identification and treatment of health-related issues; however, prenatal coverage might be too late to prevent the consequences of preexisting conditions and preconception exposures that could affect maternal and infant health. Continuous access to health insurance and health care for women of reproductive age could improve maternal and infant health by providing the opportunity to manage or treat conditions that are present before and between pregnancies.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION: PRAMS data can be used to identify patterns of health insurance coverage among women around the time of pregnancy. Removing barriers to obtaining health insurance for women who lack coverage, particularly before pregnancy, could improve the health of women and their infants. The findings in this report can be used by public health professionals, policy analysts, and others to monitor health insurance coverage for women around the time of pregnancy. In particular, 2009 state-specific data can serve as baseline information to assess and monitor changes in health insurance coverage since the passage of ACA.

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