Photo: Alec Couros (Flickr)
Pregnant women choosing to schedule their childbirths prior to the full 39 weeks won’t get those births covered by Indiana’s Medicaid program anymore, according to a new policy the Family and Social Services Administration announced today.
The new policy, which goes into effect July 1, is meant to help reduce the state’s infant mortality rate.
Indiana has the sixth worst infant mortality rate in the country at nearly eight deaths for every 1,000 births, which state health officials say is caused by smoking, obesity and early elective deliveries.
“If there’s not a medical indication to go early, you want that baby to go 39 weeks,” Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. William Van Ness says. “Then the baby’s lungs are mature, their heart’s matured enough, their brain is, they’re able to survive without oxygen.”
Half of all births in Indiana are covered by Medicaid, and Indiana Medicaid Director Joe Moser says about 15 Medicaid births per month are early and elective.
He says while improving the health of infants is the most important goal, the new policy will also have other benefits:
“It’s also going to save Indiana Medicaid some money from the cost of pre-term births, which is much higher than a healthy, normal delivery,” Moser says.
VanNess says as part of Indiana’s push to reduce infant mortality, the state has encouraged insurance company Anthem to follow the state’s lead and end support for early, elective births.