By: Karen Meyerson, MSN, RN, FNP-C, AE-C
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States birth rate is at it’s lowest point since 1979. However, maternity health costs remain one of the highest cost drivers for employers. According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau, 59% of first-time mothers return to the workforce within three months of giving birth and 80% return to the same employer. Investing in quality maternity care not only supports your employees but could impact retention.
By better understanding the top cost implications of maternity care and finding a program to support your expecting employees, your business can save money while also providing high-quality care.
Factors impacting cost of pregnancy
Pregnancy is complicated and each pregnancy is different; costs can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, from where the birth takes place to how the baby is delivered. The top three variables that are driving up the cost of maternity care are:
- Increase in C-section rates: C-sections are an abdominal surgery, and involve more risk, longer recovery times, and greater costs. Reducing C-section deliveries has become a global health initiative as the rate has risen over the past few decades.
- Lack of effective pre-natal care: Proper pre-natal care helps both mom and baby stay healthy throughout the pregnancy and can lower the risk of complications. Effective, comprehensive care delivered throughout the duration of the pregnancy can lower overall care costs.
- Lack of post-partum care: Receiving care after the baby is born is essential for both mother and child; especially for mental health. One in seven women experience post-partum depression, which if left untreated can negatively influence many aspects of life, including work. Attending post-partum care visits is essential for staying healthy and receiving the help you need.
How employers can support maternity health
It’s estimated that health care services for mothers and children account for $1 out of every $5 that large employers spend on employee health services. Many mothers work through most of their pregnancy and return soon after. Investing in the health of expectant mothers will not only help your employees stay engaged with their health plan and feel supported, but it can also help your company save money on health costs in the long run.
Look at your current employee health offerings and determine what coverage you currently have available for expectant mothers, especially as it relates to the top three cost-driving factors. What areas can you look to add more support?
Employers may also check with their health plan provider to see what maternity program may be available for their employees. For example, Priority Health recently launched a pilot program with a select group of employers called PriorityMOM™.
PriorityMOM™, which stands for maternity offering for members, is a personalized program focused on supporting expecting mothers and proving them with resources throughout their pregnancy. For example, mothers in the program receive a free blood pressure cuff to support management of hypertension throughout pregnancy and after, helping to lower their risk for complications.
To learn more and find out if your employees are eligible contact your Priority Health representative.
About the Author: Karen Meyerson, MSN, RN, FNP-C, AE-C, is the Director of Commercial Care Management for Priority Health. Karen is a board-certified family nurse practitioner through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and previously worked in a private allergy practice. She is also a certified asthma educator through the National Asthma Educator Certification Board (NAECB). Karen has a passion for helping individuals optimally manage their health conditions and improve their quality of life. She leads a team of nurses and social workers providing holistic care management services for members with chronic or complex conditions.