According to a new study, nearly half of the 3.8 million births across the U.S. in 2010 were covered by Medicaid—an eye-opening stat that will no doubt help politicians determine the impact of health reform. Though that rate is pretty alarming on its own, consider this: A similar study done back in 2008 found that 40 percent of births were paid by Medicaid, meaning they spiked significantly in just two years.
As it now stands, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) seeks to expand Medicaid coverage, which would lead to better female health and maternity care for lower-income families. Now armed with the knowledge that so many moms and babies pass through the system each year, an effort by experts to bolster its quality would be a clear plus in so many ways.
"Low-income women of childbearing age will be able to obtain more continuous coverage before and between pregnancies," says lead study investigator Anne Markus, who is an associate professor of health policy at George Washington University. And that's not all. "Researchers will have a comprehensive baseline that will help them determine how increased access to services might change pregnancies and ultimately birth outcomes," she says.
The big hope here? That expanded Medicaid coverage for moms and babies could cut down some common, yet very serious birth complications—namely the amount of premature births we have each year, which is somewhere around half a million.