Researchers say that Medicaid expansion in some states has helped improve the rate of women who had health coverage before getting pregnant. File photo by Chaikom/Shutterstock
Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Pre-pregnancy health coverage among women in low-income households grew after Medicaid expanded its eligibility in the Affordable Care Acts, a study says.
Researchers at Columbia University published the study in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecologythat after analyzing data on more than 30,000 women from eight states that expanded Medicaid on January 1, 2014, and nearly 27,000 women from seven states that didn't.
The women came from families with incomes that fell at least 138 percent below the federal poverty level.
The rate of preconception -- one month prior to conception -- Medicaid coverage among women in expansion states shot up 14 points to 57 percent, while rates among preconception women in non-expansion states ticked up only 5 points to 36 percent.
"This study suggests that the ACA Medicaid expansion was associated with improved continuity of Medicaid coverage from the preconception to prenatal period," Jamie Daw, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at the Columbia Mailman School, said in a press release.
Close to half of the new cases of Medicaid coverage resulted from a decline in the number of women with private health insurance. The other half of the surge came from women who didn't have insurance.
In previous research, Daw and her team discovered that over half of women with pregnancy-related Medicaid didn't have insurance prior to the ACA.
"The U.S. has the highest maternal and infant mortality rate among high-income countries," Daw said. "More research is needed to explore the extent to which the increases in preconception Medicaid found in this study led to improvements in health outcomes for mothers and children."