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Public Health Rep. 1992 Nov-Dec;107(6):647-52.

Weighing costs and benefits of adequate prenatal care for 12,023 births in Missouri's Medicaid program, 1988.

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Bureau of Health Data Analysis, Missouri Department of Health, Jefferson City 65102.


Numerous studies have shown that the receipt of adequate prenatal care is associated with improvements in pregnancy outcome, particularly a reduction in the risk of low birth weight. Since medical costs for these low birth weight infants are several times higher than for normal birth weight infants, one would expect that medical costs for newborns would be lower for babies whose mothers have had adequate prenatal care than for those with inadequate prenatal care. Explored in this paper is whether the reduction in Medicaid costs for newborn and post-partum maternal care is greater than the increase in prenatal costs for a Medicaid population. The analysis used a file of 12,023 Missouri Medicaid records linked with the corresponding 1988 birth certificates. A modified version of the Kessner index was used to define the adequacy of prenatal care. Prenatal care costs were $233 higher for pregnancies with adequate prenatal care than for those in which prenatal care was inadequate. Newborn and post-partum costs starting within 60 days after the birth were $347 lower for the adequate prenatal care pregnancies, resulting in a savings of $1.49 for each extra $1 spent on prenatal care. Among the other factors studied in determining this benefit to cost ratio were global billing, Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and participation in Medicaid under the expanded eligibility provisions that were effective in Missouri in 1988.

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