MATERNAL MINIMUM STAY: Study Says Costs May Not Outweigh Benefits
A cost-benefit analysis of Illinois maternal minimum-stay legislation, similar to that enacted in a majority of states and supplemented by the 1996 Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, found that such requirements "may be an expensive reaction to alarming anecdotes about improper utilization review and management techniques," the American Journal of Public Health reports. The study analyzed data related to 167,769 deliveries at Illinois hospitals between April 1995 and March 1996. "After an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, nearly 76,000 women (56%) stayed only 1 day in the hospital," while Illinois law requires insurers to provide coverage for up to 48 hours. Of those women who had uncomplicated caesarean deliveries, 72% stayed fewer than four days -- the minimum Illinois insurers are required to cover. As the average cost of a second hospital day following vaginal delivery is $1,000, researchers concluded, "[I]f 10% of short-stay women increased their stay to the legislated minimum, additional hospital charges would exceed savings unless 100% of readmissions were avoided." The study notes that only 1.1% of women who gave birth were readmitted, while 2.1% of infants were readmitted, following routine discharges (Raube, Merrell, June issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.