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Womens Health Issues. 2013 Sep-Oct;23(5):e273-80. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.06.006.

Medicaid covered births, 2008 through 2010, in the context of the implementation of health reform.

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Department of Health Policy, Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20006, USA.

Erratum in

  • Womens Health Issues. 2013 Nov-Dec;23(6):e411.



Medicaid is a major source of public health care financing for pregnant women and deliveries in the United States. Starting in 2014, some states will extend Medicaid to thousands of previously uninsured, low-income women. Given this changing landscape, it is important to have a baseline of current levels of Medicaid financing for births in each state. This article aims to 1) provide up-to-date, multiyear data for all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and 2) summarize issues of data comparability in view of increased interest in program performance and impact assessment.


We collected 2008-2010 data on Medicaid births from individual state contacts during the winter of 2012-2013, systematically documenting sources and challenges.


In 2010, Medicaid financed 45% of all births, an increase of 4% [corrected] in the proportion of all births covered by Medicaid in 2008. Percentages varied among states. Numerous data challenges were found.


Consistent adoption of the 2003 birth certificate in all states would allow the National Center for Health Statistics Natality Detail dataset to serve as a nationally representative source of data for the financing of births in the United States. As states expand coverage to low-income women, women of childbearing age will be able to obtain coverage before and between pregnancies, allowing for access to services that could improve their overall and reproductive health, as well as birth outcomes. Improved birth outcomes could translate into substantial cost savings, because the costs associated with preterm births are estimated to be 10 times greater than those for full-term births.

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