Prenatal care initiation among very low-income women in the aftermath of welfare reform: Does pre-pregnancy Medicaid coverage make a difference?


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Abstract

ObjectivesTo examine pre-pregnancy Medicaid coverage and initiation of prenatal care among women likely eligible for Medicaid coverage regardless of pregnancy.MethodsThe Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) was used to identify very low-income women with Medicaid payment for delivery. We then compared prenatal care initiation among women with (Non-GAP) and without (Medicaid GAP) pre-pregnancy Medicaid coverage.ResultsRates of first trimester prenatal care were 47.3% for women in the Medicaid GAP, 70.0% for women who were not. The adjusted odds ratio for being in the Medicaid GAP and delayed prenatal care was 2.7 (95% CI 1.2, 6.2), although this varied by race/ethnicity and education. The relationship was strongest among White and Hispanic women with less than a high school education: OR=13.8, (95% CI 3.0, 62.7) and OR=19.0 (95% CI 2.4, 149.2), respectively.ConclusionsPre-pregnancy Medicaid coverage appears to be associated with early initiation of prenatal care. Almost a decade after welfare reform, it is essential to preserve the Medicaid expansions for pregnant women, foster Medicaid family planning waivers, and promote access to primary care and early prenatal care, particularly for very low-income women.

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